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Transport Select Committee urges drive to rail electrification
Transport Select Committee urges drive to rail electrification

Transport Select Committee urges drive to rail electrification

The rail industry has welcomed recommendations made to the government by the Transport Select Committee.

In a Westminster Hall Debate called by Lilian Greenwood, Chair of the Transport Select Committee, the government were urged by a cross-party group of MPs to provide more consistent funding or businesses within the rail industry, as well as a pipeline of future enhancements to the network.

The government were also advised to reconsider the installation of electrification of railway lines that are intensively used, which will help with the overall aim of decarbonising the railway network by 2040.

The debate centred around a report from the Parliamentary Transport Committee in June last year which highlighted the disparities by region of rail infrastructure investment, and called on the government to ensure regions outside London can attract transport investment.

In those recommendations, it called for the reclassification of three electrification schemes that had previously been cancelled.

And the Railway Industry Association (RIA), representing more than 240 companies nationwide, said the Westminster Hall Debate had been “useful.”

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive at the RIA, said the government must work alongside the Association to guarantee electrification.

He said: “Crucially, the debate identified the need to smooth out ‘boom and bust’ cycles in the five yearly funding Control Periods for rail infrastructure. ‘Boom and bust’ increases costs by up to 30%, damages business and investment, reduces employment, and jeopardises the ability of SMEs to survive in the rail industry.

“It is encouraging that in debate, the Rail Minister, Andrew Jones, responded he understands the need to deal with this issue.

“The Westminster Hall Debate also saw MPs asking the government to keep rail electrification ‘on the table’, as it is clear electrification remains the optimal form of traction for an intensively used railway.

“It is vital that the government works with RIA as it publishes its Electrification Cost Challenge report soon, to see how the costs of electrification can be reduced, and ultimately how electrification can help deliver on the government’s policy to decarbonise rail by 2040.”

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