The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) represents the companies who design, deliver and manage our national infrastructure and built environment.
Andy Bell, director at Ramboll in the UK, and chair of ACE’s transport group, reacts to the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan:
“Just 18 months ago the Prime Minister told Parliament in a statement following the Oakervee review, that it ‘does not make any sense’ to build Northern Powerhouse Rail without HS2 and the Government’s strategy was to do both ‘simultaneously’. Clearly the pandemic has strained public finances since then, but another change of approach does not help an engineering sector scaling up skills and resources – at a time of global demand for rail expertise – around what appeared to be clear commitments and pledges.
“The priority now must be to make the new approach deliver for both society and the Net Zero economy we must build. This means ensuring that the schemes that do go ahead increase rail freight capacity and encourage people out of cars, while also ensuring that they are designed as part of broader place-based regeneration strategies. With the change from Network Rail to GB Rail another potential complicating factor, ensuring a coherent and dependable pipeline of work for efficient rail investment needs to be a priority for the Department for Transport.
“Only then will rail be able to effectively contribute to improving the lives of people in communities across the UK.”