“Be Sure: Show us the Rail Enhancements” is a response to the government’s decision to move the decision-making process for large-scale infrastructure to a new pipeline approach for Control Period 6, the rail sector’s current funding period, which began in April 2019 and runs to May 2024. Under the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP) different projects progress through different stages before coming to market. However, RIA says this approach has led to a lack of visibility of upcoming work for businesses working in the sector.
Specifically, RIA says that there are currently no construction-ready schemes in the project pipeline other than those already scheduled or leftover from CP5, resulting in a significant hiatus before any new projects come to market. With no time limit for each stage of RNEP, a project could take any amount of time to clear the pipeline while a decision to cancel a project can take place at any time.
“As the government launches its Spending Round for the coming year, and looks towards a three-year Spending Review next year, the rail industry desperately needs to know what rail enhancements are planned,” says Mr Darren Caplan, RIA chief executive. “We have been calling on the DfT since late 2017 to set out its plans, and they have still not done so, despite the government’s guidance, published just a few months ago, that every government department should be open about its commercial procurement pipelines so that suppliers can plan for forthcoming projects.
“Rail suppliers clearly need visibility of upcoming rail upgrades in order to deliver effectively. Not publishing shovel-ready projects in the pipeline means investment is reduced, jobs are fewer than they otherwise would be, and upgrades become more expensive as the industry takes time to gear up for individual schemes.”
RIA represents more than 240 companies active in the British rail sector, employing around 600,000 people. The companies range from multinational companies to SMEs, which make up 60% of the member base.