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2024: Let's accelerate rail investment this year

8 January 2024

With the UK now back at work after the Christmas break, now is a good time to reflect on the benefits of UK rail to the economy.

This comes amid growing evidence that passengers are returning to the railway in ever increasing numbers and revenues are on an upward curve too. This encouraging upturn in demand is a reminder that we need to invest today to build the network capacity of tomorrow.

Looking ahead to 2024, we at the Railway Industry Association (RIA) are optimistic about the year ahead. The rail industry is a foundation sector of the UK economy which can boost growth and productivity as well as enhancing the UK’s regional connectivity by creating jobs, all of which are crucial priorities in an election year.

Network Rail’s Control Period 7 (CP7) funding settlement for infrastructure from April 2024 to March 2029 is a strong foundation for rail suppliers to build on while rolling stock orders should be forthcoming across a number of operators in late 2024. 

Government, both pre and post General Election, should remember that rail is key to delivering our Net Zero ambitions by 2050. The optimum way to do this is through the electrification of the most intensively used parts of the network supported by hydrogen and battery trains in less congested areas. 

A new Government of whatever colour in 2024 will hopefully be the catalyst for delivering Rail Reform, with an opportunity to implement the draft legislation that the Government has pledged to bring forward for Parliamentary scrutiny. 

This year RIA and our members will continue to make the case for investment in the existing railway network for renewals, enhancements and the necessary roll out of electrification and digitalisation. With several reviews of future transport connectivity underway, we again call on decision makers to keep all options open on HS2 phase 2a until a full analysis of options has been completed and the government has published the Long-Term Rail Strategy. Our message to the Treasury, the Government, and all political parties more widely is: now is the time to put your foot on the pedal of railway investment when UK rail is bouncing back so strongly from the pandemic.
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