The voice of the UK’s rail supply community, the Railway Industry Association (RIA), wants the Autumn Budget to include commitments to electrification, rolling stock R&D funding, and an end to ‘boom and bust’ rail funding.
In its ‘Key Budget Asks’ submission, the RIA has made four requests as part of the Budget.
Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that it will be held on Monday 29 October this year – a tad earlier than last year in order to pave the way for further Brexit negotiations to continue.
Given this will be the last Budget before Britain is set to exit the European Union (EU) on 29 March 2019, the main representative of the UK rail supply community is focused on making sure that the Chancellor is fully aware of what the industry needs going forward.
With Control Period 6 (CP6) set to start in April next year, one of the key areas that needs attention is funding for rolling stock R&D during this five-year period; as such, the RIA has asked the government to increase funding for this, following the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR’s) decision to reduce Network Rail’s request for £440 million in co-funding for R&D to £100 million.
All of this investment is to be focused on infrastructure; therefore, the RIA believes funding for rolling stock is fundamental, otherwise it will “significantly reduce the ability of suppliers to take high risk leading edge development.”
On this point, Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the RIA, said: “The UK rail network runs as a system, meaning the continued development of both its infrastructure and rolling stock is vital in achieving journey time and passenger benefits, as well as in reducing the cost of running the network.
“In the next Control Period funding cycle, CP6, which starts in April 2019, infrastructure has funding for R&D yet rolling stock does not.
“If the rail industry is to innovate and meet the government’s challenges to decarbonise and digitalise the rail network, there really does need to be impactful funding for both.”
Elsewhere in the Autumn Budget submission, the Association has called for guarantees that electrification remains an option for decarbonising the rail network; a commitment to the end of ‘boom and bust’ rail funding, ensuring a visible pipeline of enhancements that provides confidence for rail suppliers; and for the government to ensure the Rail Review does not stall investment in the network.