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RIA responds to National Infrastructure Commission annual review

16 May 2024 


The Railway Industry Association (RIA), the voice of the rail supply community, has welcomed the National Infrastructure Commission annual review analysis published today, which calls for a new long-term plan for rail with a steady delivery pipeline.

Commenting on the National Infrastructure Commission’s annual review published on 16 May, which includes new analysis of the railway network in the North and Midlands post-HS2 north of Birmingham cancellation, RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan said:

“The National Infrastructure Commission’s findings fire a warning shot to both current and future governments about the need for more investment in rail capacity in the decades ahead.

“The report clearly says that without investment in transport infrastructure like rail, growth in cities around the country - particularly the North and Midlands - would be constrained, and it cites the recent RIA-commissioned Steer report forecasting that rail passenger demand will grow between 37% and 97% to 2050, depending on which policies are adopted in the coming years. RIA has consistently warned that the absence of a strategy for north-south rail capacity and regional connectivity risks holding the country back, whether the economy, connectivity, local growth, or the UK’s ability to deliver Net Zero.

“The Commission rightly calls out the lack of a coherent long-term plan for rail along with a steady delivery pipeline. Its analysis shows how a visible long-term pipeline of rail renewals and enhancements is crucial for local authorities and the supply chain, to be able to plan and attract private investment. The report also says the Government had not met its objective to make decisions and stick to them, with changes such as cancelling the later stages of HS2 exacerbating uncertainty for both businesses and investors. RIA has been regularly calling for a clear long-term strategy and full pipeline information, and we urge policy makers both now and in the future to heed this call, make decisions and stick to them.”

Notes to Editors

1. Key quotes from the NIC report (taken from Chapter 4 on Long term plan for rail):
“The UK has a productivity problem which transport investment, including rail, should help to address”
“…the Commission’s analysis suggests that without improvements, [rail] capacity could act as a constraining factor on growth in cities in the North and Midlands, such as Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds”
“The government needs a new long term plan for rail with a steady delivery pipeline”
“This long term plan should be supported by a renewed focus on delivering mature schemes through the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline”
“A refreshed and regularly updated Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline, which at present has not been updated since 2019, could be expanded to provide clarity about the delivery timescales, each project’s stage of development and the associate cost range… This would enable the long term strategy to be sequenced through a steady delivery pipeline while retaining a degree of flexibility in the plan to adapt if necessary.”

2. The NIC report draws on and cites independent analysis that RIA commissioned from specialist consultants Steer, published in February 2024,

3. In recent evidence to the Transport Select Committee, RIA has called for the Draft Rail Reform Bill to be amended to require publication of a long term strategy for rail, and for Great British Railways to routinely publish a pipeline of investment. RIA Policy Director Robert Cook provided evidence in person on 7 May, and the transcript is available here.

4. 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. RIA has over 360 companies in membership in a sector that contributes £43 billion in economic growth and £14 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 710,000 people. It is also a vital industry for the UK’s economic recovery, supporting green investment and jobs in towns and communities across the UK; for every £1 spent in rail, £2.50 is generated in the wider economy. 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).


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