Image credit: Network Rail

The Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, today set out the next steps for rail reform at the George Bradshaw Address.

Responding to the speech, Railway Industry Association (RIA) Chief Executive Darren Caplan said: “The Railway Industry Association and our members will welcome the clarity on rail reform provided by Transport Secretary Mark Harper. The clarity around GBR, which the Secretary of State was clear will be a strategic guiding mind rather than a controlling mind, is essential to ensuring that rail projects are delivered cost-effectively and efficiently by the rail supply chain, providing value for money to both the fare payer and the tax payer.

“Last year RIA published ‘Five Tests for Great British Railways’, highlighting the key areas the railway supply sector wants the new organisation to focus on, to ensure rail reform is a success: preventing a hiatus in rail work, transparency, partnership with rail businesses, productivity, and ambition for a restructure which leaves a positive legacy in terms of safety, decarbonisation, exports and the economy.

“The clarity provided in the Transport Secretary’s speech today goes some way to providing reassurance on the issues of preventing a hiatus in work, more transparency and partnership with the private sector. The commitment to publish a long-term strategy for rail later this year is also very welcome. However, more still needs to be done to ensure there is a smooth and visible pipeline of work, and that rail suppliers are represented in plans to develop the pipeline, during what will be a period of significant change for the industry going forward. It is also important for industry to hear more about the positive legacy of GBR, in addition to the Transport Secretary’s welcome comments about better connecting people and resources.

“It is now essential the Government sticks to its plans and prioritises swift delivery, as certainty not just helps the supply chain deliver transformational rail projects in an effective and efficient way, but also enables the sector to make an even greater contribution when it comes to the UK’s economic growth, job creation, decarbonisation and the levelling-up agenda”.