10 reasons to continue to invest in rail

24 November 2020

RIA's '10 reasons to continue to invest in rail' document was published ahead of the 2020 Spending Review and in light of the debate over Coronavirus’s impact on the future of transport.

Executive Summary

The document sets out 10 reasons to maintain rail invest post-Coronavirus. These include:

  1. Rail is a long-term game – Investments in infrastructure or rolling stock are usually delivered and create continuing value for passengers and the wider economy over years. 
  2. The reduction in passenger numbers is likely to be temporary – Based on previous economic slumps in the 1980s, 1990s and post-2008, and past health crises, passenger numbers have always recovered to continue their pattern of growth.
  3. Rail is not just for passengers – It is also vital for freight, with over 4 billion tonnes being delivered annually before Coronavirus. 
  4. Rail travel is clean and safe –The rail industry is working hard to ensure trains are clean and safe to use for the public, with daily cleaning of train interiors using anti-viral cleaning materials.
  5. Investment can support the whole of the UK – The rail network touches almost every part of the country and has the potential to unlock a new generation of talent.
  6. Rail can lead the green recovery – It is not possible to meet zero carbon goals for transport without rail. Rail is a green mode of mass transit, contributing to just 2.5% greenhouse gas emissions from transport and only 0.6% of total UK emissions. 
  7. Rail cannot easily be mothballed - Once rail infrastructure is decommissioned, it is not easily reopened.
  8. Rail investment has a knock-on economic impact - For every £1 spent on the rail network, £2.20 value is delivered in the wider economy.
  9. Investment cannot wait – Much of the rail spending planned cannot be postponed, in order to meet our decarbonisation and digitalisation targets.
  10. There is a clear window to get work done – The pandemic has provided an opportunity to get work done without impacting services, which should be capitalised on before passenger and freight numbers return.

The Report