A reduction in infrastructure costs, increased innovation and attempts to double the industry’s exports by 2025 are all central themes in the rail sector deal announced today.
Part of the modern industrial strategy, the government is hoping to encourage a move to digital and an exchanging of ideas between the rail industry and other sectors.
Ministers believe the details of a new deal should go a long way in enabling the rail sector to deliver more for passengers, create jobs and drive economic growth across the country. By paving the way for the development of new customer products, it should improve passenger experience with the introduction of better journey planning apps.
Plans also include significantly reducing digital signalling costs by 2025, supporting sector apprenticeships and increasing awareness of the opportunities available and to establish a data sharing platform to support further innovation.
Newly-appointed rail minister Andrew Jones said: “Since their invention nearly two centuries ago, the railways have brought people across the country closer together and helped to drive our industries. The rail sector deal will help us go even further, enabling the industry to harness new digital technologies to improve the experience of passengers and create well-paid, highly-skilled jobs.”
"Developing the deal has been an example of cross-industry and government collaboration at its best."
Anna Delvecchio, rail sector deal co-lead.
The government expects the deal will reduce the cost of building the railway while supporting the sector to increase exports. This will be achieved partly by attracting small businesses to the market and encouraging young people to the industry.
Anna Delvecchio, commercial account director at Amey and RSG Sector Deal co-lead, said: “Developing the deal has been an example of cross-industry and government collaboration at its best. It sets out a well-defined strategy to provide greater improvement to customers, using digital technologies and data as a catalyst to increase productivity and drive innovation.”
With the rail sector employing over 225,000 people and directly contributing over £5 billion to the UK economy, the government has embarked on the biggest rail programme since Victorian times, committing to spend nearly £48 billion on modernising and renewing the UK’s railways, delivering a railway fit for the 21st century.
Responding, Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, said he welcomed the signing of the deal, something he hoped would help the rail industry and government to deliver together a world-class railway.
“Members of the RIA team played a significant part in helping to drive this deal forward, and we look forward to participating further to help implement the deal, particularly its sustainable procurement and Digital Railway pillars. It is an exciting time to be working in the rail industry, and the Rail Sector Deal will help the UK’s railway deliver even more for UK plc, its economy and connectivity, in the years ahead.”