The national trade body for rail suppliers as called for visibility and consistency to be prioritised, as the new five-year funding cycle commences.
In the five years from April 2019, Network Rail will invest approximately £48 billion on the railway, to maintain and renew assets, ultimately making passenger experiences even better.
Lessons have been learnt from the previous rail infrastructure funding cycle and now, in Control Period 6 (CP6), plans put together by Network Rail and the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) will ensure projects hit the ground running.
The Railway Industry Association (RIA) believe it marks an exciting time for the whole sector, but Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Association, wants to see consistency and visibility in workloads.
He said: “It marks an exciting time for the industry, with a welcome £48 billion of funding for our rail network over the coming five years, including a significant increase in renewals spending.
“However, this new funding cycle also poses risks to the industry. In every Control Period since the system was set up, we have seen ‘boom and bust’ profiles in rail spending, which detrimentally impact businesses by limiting their ability to invest, create jobs and economic growth, increasing costs by up to 30% and threatening the ability of SMEs to survive.
“The new funding cycle will also see major rail improvement projects, known as enhancements, moved to a separate decision-making gateway process, which is currently providing little visibility of upcoming work.
“This not only goes against the government’s own advice on procurement, but also has the knock-on effect of limiting businesses’ ability to plan and deliver new enhancement projects.
“To get the best out of this investment, we urge the delivery of a consistent profile of rail infrastructure work for both renewals and enhancements – ultimately for the benefit of passengers, freight users and taxpayers.”