The General Election has returned a thumping majority for the Conservative Party – the likes of which they haven’t achieved since 1987.
After the gamble of calling for the election, Boris Johnson has been returned to Number 10 with a majority of 79 at the time of writing, with just one more seat to be declared.
Prior to the General Election, the Prime Minister made several promises to the rail sector and now, these organisations are hoping he delivers on them.
Mr Johnson promised a faster rail route from Manchester to Leeds in one of his first pledges during the summer, and Barry White, Chief Executive of Transport for the North, said the Prime Minister “must deliver” for the region.
He said: “The North has – rightly – been a key battleground in this election, with pledges made on improving our transport and creating opportunities.
“Now is the time to advance that Northern agenda in the national interest. The Prime Minister must now deliver.
“We’ve been encouraged by promises to fully commit to Northern Powerhouse Rail, and invest in our strategic and local roads.
“That, and tackling the challenge of making our networks greener and more inclusive, will be critical in the coming months and years.
“There are big decisions ahead that will change the fabric of the North – not least how our railways are run and delivery of HS2.
“We stand ready, on behalf of the North, to work with Boris Johnson and the new government to ensure the much-needed investment is delivered to help rebalance the UK economy.”
Following the 2019 General Election, the Railway Industry Association (RIA) – the voice of the rail supply community in the UK – congratulated all those elected to the new Parliament, confirming the Association is looking forward to working alongside the Conservative government, and Opposition party teams “to build a world-class railway in the months and years ahead.”
Darren Caplan, the Chief Executive of the RIA, was keen to highlight the success that the UK rail sector has enjoyed, but highlighted the number of tests it faces in the next few months.
In particular, he talked about the issues surrounding HS2, the change in trading relationships after leaving the European Union potentially causing problems to the sector’s chances of delivering growth.
As such, he urged MPs to work with the industry to deliver long-term change.
He said: “All the parties, the new MPs, and those re-elected, now need to recognise that despite the often negative reporting about rail, the railway industry is actually a UK economic success story, doubling passenger numbers and increasing freight services in just 25 years on essentially the same size network, whilst supporting £36 billion GVA, 600,000 jobs, £11 billion in tax and £800 million in exports. Yet the coming months and years will pose several tests for the railways.
“The Williams and Oakervee Reviews, boom and bust in rail funding, the hiatus on major projects like HS2, the challenge to decarbonise and digitalise the railway within 20 years, the lack of shovel-ready enhancement projects, and a changing international trading relationship as we leave the EU – all these will provide real challenges to rail’s ability to deliver and grow in the future.
“So the RIA urges all Parliamentarians to work with the supply sector to deliver a long-term 30-year strategy for rail, which extends well beyond five-year electoral cycles.”