ComRes poll of rail business leaders reveals damage of ‘boom and bust’ funding

22 October 2018

A survey of business leaders in the rail industry by independent polling company ComRes has revealed the damage done by ‘boom and bust’ in rail funding.

The poll of more than 120 leaders revealed that:

  • Virtually all suppliers, 99% of respondents, said there are peaks and troughs in rail funding to some degree, with two thirds saying the term ‘boom and bust’ best described the nature of Government spending in rail; 
  • When it came to the impact on businesses, more than four in five respondents who saw peaks and troughs said that these had a negative impact on their organisations, with 61% having frozen recruitment as a result, 50% chose not to employ a staff member and 45% deciding not to invest funds in their organisation as a result; and 
  • Nearly all – 96% - said the Government must do more to smooth out peaks and troughs in rail spending in future. 

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “It is clear from this new poll that the ‘boom and bust’ rail business leaders are facing in rail funding stops them from investing or hiring new staff and, in the case of SMEs, jeopardises their ability to survive. It also adds up to 30% to the cost of rail infrastructure work, making the railway more expensive for passengers, taxpayers, and the Treasury alike. 
 
“Following an investigation in the summer by the UK Parliament’s Transport Select Committee, the Government agreed to work with the Railway Industry Association, Network Rail, the DfT, the rail regulator ORR, and other key stakeholders to find a solution to this issue. This new polling is further evidence, as if it were needed, that all parties need to redouble their efforts to end ‘boom and bust’ in rail funding once and for all”. 
 
James Rentoul, Associate Director, Transport at ComRes, said: “These results clearly demonstrate the reality of peaks and troughs in UK rail sector spending for the supply chain. They illustrate the negative impact this has on these businesses, particularly on the people who work for them. Those who see large peaks and troughs are more likely than others to report a negative impact on their business, and more likely to say they have had to freeze recruitment or make redundancies. Against this background, there is a visible desire for more action from the Government to address these issues, and a clear need for more consistent and transparent funding procedures.” 

Notes to Editors
  1. The full results can be found on ComRes' website here. 
  2. ‘Boom and bust’ rail funding is caused by inconsistent funding in the five year funding cycles for rail infrastructure, known as Control Periods. Research by the Railway Industry Association (RIA) has shown that the rail supply chain has experienced ‘boom and bust’ cycles in every Control Period since the funding structure was set up in the 1990s. #
  3. The polling comes on the day of RIA’s Annual Conference, where Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald, new Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines, National Infrastructure Commission Chair Sir John Armitt and current Crossrail Chair and incoming HS2 Chair Sir Terry Morgan, will be speaking, plus many more. 
  4. Methodology note: ComRes interviewed 122 RIA Supply Chain contacts between 12th September and 15th October 2018. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Data tables are available on the ComRes website, www.comresglobal.com
  5. About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. We promote and represent our members’ interests to policy makers, clients and other stakeholders in the UK and overseas. RIA has 230+ 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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