Absence of rail plans fuels uncertainty, argues RIA

Rail faces a ‘summer of uncertainty’, according to the Railway Industry Association (RIA). 

It comes because Parliament has closed for the holidays without publication of the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline or the Integrated Rail Plan for the Midlands & North, despite “repeated indications in the first half of this year that they would be”, RIA said on July 23.

However, the industry association has welcomed publication of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan(RAIL 936) - the third in the trio of papers it had called to be issued before Parliament’s summer recess.

RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan said: “While it was good to see the Transport Decarbonisation Plan published - which RIA and its members broadly welcomed, given it supports a robust plan to decarbonise the railway network in the coming years - we are still awaiting an update on the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline and the release of the Integrated Rail Plan.”

“The RNEP, a list of planned rail upgrades, has not been published for over 20 months, even though it was understood this would happen annually. 

“The delay has meant that at least £1.5 billion has been cut from the rail enhancements budget, as the funds are returned to Government if not used. 

“Similarly, the delay to the IRP has seen work halted just this week on HS2’s Eastern Leg, and Transport for the North has reported it expects it to delay the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail by a year.

“We sympathise with the Government on the difficult impact the Coronavirus pandemic has had on budgets, yet we are simply seeking certainty and visibility on what the Government intends to do. 

“This ‘summer of uncertainty’ will not help rail suppliers as they seek to deliver a world-class railway network to the timescale and budget the Government wants for the years ahead.”

RIA represents more than 300 companies working in the sector.

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