The Economic Contribution of UK Rail

Economic research from Oxford Economics shows that the economic value of the UK rail network is significantly higher than previously thought.

New figures show that the UK’s rail system:

  • Contributes over £36bn annually to the UK economy (a greater economic impact than the food, drink and tobacco manufacturing and the chemical and pharmaceutical industries);
  • Provides around 600,000 jobs (employing more people than the entire workforce of Birmingham);
  • Generates £11bn annually in tax revenue; and
  • Generates £2.20 of income from every £1 spent on the rail network.

The Government is currently using figures that show the UK rail sector employs 240,000 people and has an economic value of rail at £10.4bn – however, these figures do not take into account the wider rail network, including metro services and catering and retail at stations.

The Report was launched at an event in the House of Commons where Transport Select Committee Chair Lilian Greenwood MP and All Party Parliamentary Rail Group Chair Martin Vickers MP spoke about the importance of the rail industry. They spoke alongside a number of industry representatives, including  from Unipart Rail and Alstom.

The Report

The Economic Contribution of UK Rail

The Economic Contribution of UK Rail – Two Page Summary

On the publication of the report, Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association said:

“The report published today shows that the economic value of rail to the UK is considerably bigger than previously thought. These new figures of around £36bn GVA and 600,000 jobs take into account the full impact of the rail industry and include areas such as metro services, rail stations and related catering and retail, which are often not included in other studies.

“The implications of this report are clear. The UK rail system should not be seen just as a vital mode of travel – connecting businesses, friends and family, and visitors to the UK – but also as a key industry for the economy in its own right. We urge the Government to consider and use the findings of this report when developing its Industrial Strategy agenda, negotiating trade deals with other countries once we have left the EU, and when promoting our world-class exports offering overseas generally.”

Steve Cocliff, Managing Director, VolkerRail Group said:

“We welcome the findings of the report today. At VolkerRail, the work we undertake creates a significant number of job, training and business opportunities either directly or through our supply chain, with a large proportion of the revenue generated feeding back into the local communities we work in. It is therefore very positive to see the economic benefits companies in the rail sector set out so clearly in this research”

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive, Campaign for Better Transport, said:

"Rail is a low carbon and highly skilled industry. This new research highlights just how big a contribution it makes to the economy. There is a very strong case for the Government to build on this strength with a long-term investment strategy, including support for a long-term electrification programme, to promote rail as a pillar of the UK economy."

The Findings