Submission to the 2020 Spending Review

13 October 2020

RIA has published its submission to HM Treasury for the 2020 Spending Review process.

Executive Summary

The UK railway network has and continues to be essential for the nation’s economy. During the height of the lockdown, the rail network enabled key workers and resources to get where they needed to be, and investment in the network will be essential to reboot the economy. The crisis has promoted closer collaboration between the Government, infrastructure clients and the supply chain and we recommend that this should continue in order to drive productivity improvements and unlock the full benefits of rail.

UK rail can act as an even greater catalyst for jobs and investment, at this vital time, but uncertainty about the future of the sector will limit the ability of rail suppliers to deliver growth. We understand that Government appetite to invest in the rail industry may be constrained by a perception that there is limited capacity within the supply chain. RIA would welcome the opportunity to discuss this challenge because our analysis has identified latent capacity and where pipelines are becoming clearer such as electrification and digital signalling we have been able to develop credible resourcing strategies. The Government can ensure greater certainty for the sector:

  • Recommendation 1: Recognise the full value and potential of rail sector to rapidly mobilise to support economic growth, zero carbon, levelling up, skills and export priorities.
  • Recommendation 2: Publish the Williams Rail Review and the Network Rail Enhancement Pipeline as a matter of urgency, providing certainty and a long term plan for the structure of the industry. The Government should also set up a Rolling Stock Summit to look at delivery of a sustainable rolling stock industry.
  • Recommendation 3: We recommend that Government goes beyond current Project SPEED thinking and: i) actively benchmarks the client/supplier proportion of project costs; and ii) considers a “make or buy” review to assess where the costs accrue and to ensure that where the private sector is best placed to deliver they are given the authority and opportunity to do so efficiently.
  • Recommendation 4: Commit to HS2 by publishing the Integrated Rail Plan for the North as planned in order to support effective private investment, forward planning and skills development. Support multi-year funding settlements for devolved transport bodies in order to enable them to work with the supply chain to deliver local priorities effectively.
  • Recommendation 5: Ensure rail is at the heart of the Transport Decarbonisation plan by delivering a rolling programme of rail electrification and supporting the introduction of hydrogen and battery trains.
  • Recommendation 6: The Government should commit to innovation by funding investment in the roll out of proven technologies including effective use of data and bringing forward funding for digital signalling commitments in the Long Term Deployment Plan. There are opportunities to do more to incentivise rollingstock and operations innovation.

Renewals delivery should continue to be smoothed over CP6 with mechanisms put in place to ensure consistent delivery in CP7. The Government should support forward visibility of expenditure profiling and open data and consider greater access to track, as set out in the Rail Supply Group’s ‘Act Now’ Report.

Rail should be a central plank of Government’s plans to ‘build back better’ and instead of holding off investment, we urge you to accelerate rail projects, which will help deliver a rail network ready for the future, providing a modern, safe and low carbon mode of transport, enhancing connectivity and supporting active travel, boosting our exports offer and providing much needed employment and investment for communities across the UK.

The Submission