The rail sector has called for the Department for Transport (DfT) to create greater visibility of projects, if the industry is to plan confidently for the future.
It comes after Transport Select Committee questioned the Rail Minister, Andrew Jones, in a one-off oral session; he was accompanied by Polly Payne, the Director General of the Rail Group.
The session scrutinised the work of the DfT on a number of rail issues, with topics of discussion including rail franchising; accessibility of trains and stations; infrastructure investment and timetabling; and rail fares, ticketing and compensation.
One of the foremost representatives of the rail sector, the Railway Industry Association (RIA), has commented on the oral evidence given by Andrew Jones.
The organisation’s Chief Executive, Darren Caplan, welcomed the Rail Minister’s words about the need for “a visible, stable, pipeline of work” for those that are responsible for building and maintaining the rail network.
But he believes the rail sector needs more certainty to invest in the network.
He said: “However, we are concerned that whilst the Minister’s comments indicate a government seeking to head in the right direction, there has not been enough action in delivering an environment where rail businesses can confidently plan for investing in the network.”
The RIA has previously called for greater visibility on the pipeline of work that the government wants to take forward.
This is something that needs to change and the voice of the rail supply community also reiterated its call for commitment to further electrification.
Darren said: “On rail enhancements, there is little or no visibility of which projects are being considered within the new decision-making pipeline process.
“On electrification, if the government wants to help rail suppliers deliver significant cost savings and achieve its aims to decarbonise the network by 2040, it needs to commit to a programme of further electrification.
“This lack of forward visibility in enhancements, market-led proposals and electrification, makes it incredible difficult for rail companies who work in these areas to invest in people, plant and processes.
“So we hope that the acknowledgement of these issues made by the Rail Minister before the Committee will spur action.”