In September, RIA launched the BE: SURE campaign calling on the Government to show the rail enhancements it is planning over the coming years.
Rail enhancements are large scale projects delivering new infrastructure such as building a new track for additional capacity or electrifying a route.
The UK rail network needs enhancements to increase rail capacity, improve journey times, and generate further economic growth. The Government also has goals to decarbonise the rail network, which can only be achieved through enhancement projects.
For the new funding cycle, known as Control Period 6 - which began in April 2019 and runs to May 2024 - the Government moved the decision-making process for these enhancements, to a new pipeline approach, where individual projects progress through different stages before coming to market. This is known as the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP).
The new RNEP has led to reduced visibility of upcoming work for rail businesses:
- There are no new construction-ready schemes in the new Control Period, CP6, pipeline, other than those already scheduled and over-hanging from the previous Control Period, CP5 – this means there will be a significant hiatus before any new projects come to market; There will only be an announcement about new projects once a project has progressed from one RNEP stage to another, preventing advance planning;
- There is no time limit for each stage of the RNEP – so a project could take any amount of time to clear the pipeline; and
- The decision could be taken to cancel a project at any stage in the pipeline.