"For suppliers to play their part, rail businesses need to see greater visibility of upcoming work, understand how the private sector can get more involved in financing rail improvements."
The UK trade association, Railway Industry Association, has called on the rail sector to put greater emphasis on supply chain companies, ahead of an industry-wide plan to enhance the UK network. Making the request in reaction to the Williams Review – the government initiative created to bring about a generational change towards rail accountability and customer focus – the RIA appealed for “greater consideration” to the companies working in rail and presented a multi-stage plan dedicated to including them more in infrastructure projects and franchises.
Launched in September 2018, consultation for the Williams Review closed on 30 April and the RIA outlined the key areas in their submissions where they felt improvements needed to be made, including the creation of a 30-year rail strategy with the aim of helping them “plan, invest and hire with confidence in future activity”. Seeing an end to “stop-start” workloads in rolling stock, infrastructure and electrification projects was also deemed important, citing the situation which can have a hugely detrimental effect on costs – boosting them by as much as 30%.
The association also called for improved partnerships between the supply chain, Network Rail and train operating companies, attracting more private sector investment and promoting a culture that is more geared towards greater collaboration.
Calling the Williams Review an opportunity “take a long-term holistic look at how it can best deliver for passengers, freight and the economy”, the RIA’s chief executive, Darren Caplan, who spoke to SmartRail World last month, said that the review “should also investigate how we can optimally build, maintain and enhance our railways in the future.”
“For suppliers to play their part, rail businesses need to see greater visibility of upcoming work, understand how the private sector can get more involved in financing rail improvements, and they need consistency in workloads, including infrastructure, rolling stock and electrification, which is the optimal solution for intensively-used rail lines,” said Caplan.
In his SmartRail World interview, Caplan cited the Williams Review as one of the biggest challenges facing the rail industry. “The Williams Rail Review; Brexit; the government’s challenges to decarbonise and digitalise the rail network – whatever your views on these issues, there’s no doubt the rail industry in the coming years will be significantly different. However, there are also opportunities to exploit and we will constantly seek to help our members do this.”
SmartRail will be in Munich on 17-19 June, bringing infrastructure managers, passenger rail and freight operators and industry suppliers all under one roof.
Confirmed speakers slots at the 3-day event include CTOs and CIOs from Deutsche Bahn, SNCF, Translink Arriva CZ and FS Italiane.
Visit the show website to see the agenda, speakers and register for the show.
The Rail Delivery Group, which also represents rail companies, said the Williams Review can help bring about a “once-in-a-generation system upgrade” that could improve the UK prosperity over the next quarter of a century. “We want to move forward with a rail system that is more focused on customers, more responsive to local communities and more accountable, letting rail companies deliver what people want in each area of the country and rebuilding trust between the industry and passengers,” said Paul Plummer, RDG chief executive.
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