April 8 marked 900 days since the Government last updated its Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP).
The lack of a regular pipeline of contracts is regarded by manufacturers and suppliers as the biggest challenge to their prosperity, with the Railway Industry Association again urging the Department for Transport to act.
The DfT published its five-year RNEP in October 21 2019, but has not updated it since despite a commitment to review it annually.
There are still no precise details about the electrification of the Midland Main Line, Trans-Pennine Route Upgrade, or resignalling on the East Coast route. Other schemes in the RNEP ‘waiting room’ include increasing freight capacity in Cumbria and the Heathrow Western Rail Link, and RIA is concerned that some of these projects may not happen.
Answering a Parliamentary Question in February, Rail Minister Wendy Morton said that she is committed to publishing an update to the RNEP “shortly”.
Representing more than 300 rail companies, RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan said: “We regularly hear from suppliers that they struggle to plan for the years ahead with such little certainty about which projects will be given the green light in the coming years.
“In what is a complex and highly skilled sector like rail, this uncertainty hamstrings businesses’ ability to deliver cost-effectively, and risks adding costs and delays to key upgrades.”
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