Ahead of the highly-anticipated autumn budget this month, the Railway Industry Association (RIA) is calling on the chancellor to announce extra funding for research and development of rolling stock and commit to ending stop-start funding.
As one of its requests, the body has called on the government to increase funding for rolling stock R&D following the rail regulator Office of Road and Rail’s decision to reduce Network Rail’s request for £440m in co-funding for R&D to £100m, all of which is to be focused on infrastructure.
The rail body is also hoping the government will leave the door open on future electrification and wants assurances that a rail review announced by the transport secretary a few weeks ago does not stall investment in the network.
The submission ahead of the budget at the end of the month also asks for ministers to provide a visible pipeline of enhancements to instil confidence for suppliers and to maintain funding for enhancements in Control Period 6 to at least the same levels as in Control Period 5.
Commenting on the RIA submission, chief executive Darren Caplan, said: “The UK rail network runs as a system, meaning the continued development of both its infrastructure and rolling stock is vital in achieving journey time and passenger benefits, as well as in reducing the cost of running the network. In the next Control Period funding cycle, which starts in April 2019, infrastructure has funding for R&D yet rolling stock does not. If the rail industry is to innovate and meet the government’s challenges to decarbonise and digitalise the rail network, there really does need to be impactful funding for both.”
RIA’s key asks for the autumn budget are:
- Provide match-funding for rolling stock R&D in Control Period 6
- Commit to ending ‘boom and bust’ rail funding and ensure a visible pipeline of enhancements that provides confidence for rail suppliers
- Ensure electrification remains an option for decarbonising the rail network, subject to costs being reduced as per RIA’s Electrification Cost Challenge
- Ensure the Rail Review does not result in a stalling of investment in the rail network.
Caplan says while suppliers are happy to provide match funding in R&D moving forward, a lack of co-funding in CP6 would make it difficult for multinational companies to make the case for R&D in the UK and therefore stresses the importance to those in Whitehall.
On the four-fold requests, Caplan added: “RIA continues to campaign for an end to ‘boom and bust’ rail funding – which does so much damage for the rail industry, particularly SMEs whose survival is threatened and puts jobs and investment at risk - and for electrification to be a key option as the Government seeks to decarbonise the railway.