Autumn Budget submission: Rail Industry calls for rolling stock R&D funding; Government to work to smooth out rail funding ‘boom and bust’; and electrification to help decarbonise rail network

1 October 2018

The Railway Industry Association (RIA), the voice of the UK rail supply community, has called for more funding into rolling stock research and development (R&D) in its submission to the Autumn Budget.
As one of its ‘Key Budget Asks’, RIA has called on the Government to increase funding for rolling stock R&D following the rail regulator Office of Road and Rail’s decision to reduce Network Rail’s request for £440 million in co-funding for R&D to £100 million, all of which is to be focused on infrastructure.
RIA states in its submission that no R&D funding for rolling stock or train operations “will significantly reduce the ability of suppliers to take high risk leading edge development.”
RIA’s key asks for the Autumn Budget are:

  1. Provide match-funding for rolling stock R&D in Control Period 6;
  2. Commit to ending ‘boom and bust’ rail funding, and ensure a visible pipeline of enhancements that provides confidence for rail suppliers;
  3. Ensure electrification remains an option for decarbonising the rail network, subject to costs being reduced as per RIA’s Electrification Cost Challenge; and
  4. Ensure the Rail Review does not result in a stalling of investment in the rail network. 

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (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.
“Rail suppliers are happy to provide match funding in R&D, as shown by the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), a £92 million partnership between industry and academia. However, the lack of co-funding in CP6 will make it difficult for multinational companies to make the case for R&D in the UK, due to the high risks involved when they are often able to obtain match funding in other countries. So we urge the Government to provide match funding for rolling stock R&D urgently, before CP6 begins.”

On the RIA Key Asks for the Budget, Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA) said: “RIA continues to campaign for an end to ‘boom and bust’ rail funding – which does so much damage for the rail industry, particularly SMEs whose survival is threatened and puts jobs and investment at risk - and for electrification to be a key option as the Government seeks to decarbonise the railway.
“We were pleased to see the Government’s recent response to the Transport Select Committee’s rail infrastructure investment inquiry, where in response to two recommendations on these issues, the Government committed to work with RIA and the wider rail industry. We now need to get the key decision-makers round the table to smooth ‘boom and bust’ once and for all, and also seek to reduce the costs of electrification.”
RIA's Autumn Budget Submission

Notes to Editors

  1. The Autumn Budget will take place on 29 October 2018. More information can be found here.
  2. Government’s response to the Transport Select Committee’s Rail Infrastructure Investment inquiry:
  • On ‘boom and bust’ rail funding: On 28 June 2018, the Transport Select Committee said it “support[s] the Railway Industry Association’s call for the Department for Transport to bring together all the key stakeholders, including suppliers, Network Rail and the Office of Rail and Road, to evaluate the effects of the current system on the renewals spending profile.” The Government response accepted this recommendation and said it would “will work closely with Network Rail and the supply chain in the coming months to establish an effective forward-look of the longer term renewals portfolio”.
  • On electrification: The inquiry also found that the DfT and Network Rail “should engage with the Railway Industry Association’s Electrification Cost Challenge initiative, and together produce a report on cost effective electrification within 12 months”. The Government’s response on 19 September stated that the Government “will continue to engage with the industry and RIA on initiatives that could reduce the cost of enhancing the railway and improve the outcomes for its users. We will work with RIA to produce a report as recommended.” 
    The Inquiry recommendations and Government’s response can be found here.

About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the representative body for UK-based suppliers to the UK and world-wide railways. It has more than 220 companies in membership in a sector that contributes £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people—more than the workforce of Birmingham. It is also a growing industry with the number of rail journeys expected to double over the next 25 years and freight set to grow significantly too.  RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number). RIA works to promote the importance of the rail system to UK plc, to help export UK expertise around the globe and to share best practice and innovation across the industry.

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