The Railway Industry Association (RIA) has launched its RAIL 2050 manifesto, setting out the industry’s key asks as the UK heads towards a general election.
The manifesto, which looks at how the UK can develop a long-term, sustainable rail industry over the next 30 years, calls for the political parties to provide:
- Development of a long term, 30-year strategy that promotes private investment;
- The smoothing of 'boom and bust' in rail infrastructure and rolling stock investment, and improvement to the visibility of upcoming enhancement upgrade projects;
- A better balance in the train fleet between new and upgraded trains;
- Decarbonisation of the railway, through a rolling programme of electrification for intensively used lines and by using battery, hydrogen, bimode and trimode technology for other lines;
- Digitalisation of the railway through deployment of modern digital signalling technology;
- Commitment to major rail projects including HS2, TransPennine Route Upgrade, Northern Powerhouse Rail, East West Rail, Midlands Rail Hub and Crossrail 2, amongst others;
- Government to work with the rail industry to set priorities for innovation and collaboration between rail organisations;
- Government to consider the role of the rail industry as a key UK exporter, when developing new trade agreements.
Darren Caplan, RIA chief executive, said: “As the UK heads to the polls on 12 December, transport, and in particular, the future of rail, is one of the issues the political parties need to consider if they want to build a country with a world-class economy and best in class connectivity.
“RAIL 2050 has been developed with the input of our rail supplier members, to set out our vision for a long-term, sustainable, rail network that works for customers, taxpayers and the wider economy.
“Our call to the next government, whatever its political hue, is clear: we need a strategy not just for the next electoral cycle but for the next 30 years, which ends boom and bust in rail funding, balances the train fleet with both new and upgraded trains, and which digitalises, decarbonises and delivers the range of major projects we need to increase capacity. This strategy also needs to help promote greater innovation and collaboration in the sector, whilst developing rail as a key part of the UK’s exports and overseas trade offer.
“Whilst we look forward to seeing each of the political parties’ manifestos as they are published over the coming weeks, all of us in the railway industry need to make the case for building world-class rail at home and abroad both before and then when a new government is finally elected in December.
“With the Williams and Oakervee Reviews reporting soon too, and Brexit continuing the uncertainty, now really is a crucial time in the development of rail policy for the years ahead,” said Caplan.