Calls have been made by the Railway Industry Association (RIA) to the government to increase the funding that they have put forward for research and development of rolling stock. They have also been asked to make a commitment to funding and not continue the stop-start funding that has caused a wide range of problems. It is also seeking complete assurance that electrification is still a viable option while seeking complete confidence in the up and coming Rail Review, in the hope that it does not put a hold on any kind of investments made in the rail network.
Prior to the Autumn Budget in October, a six-page document was released whereby the Rail Industry Association is arguing that the high number of renewals seen each year have changed through every Control Period to date and this could lead to a significant threat to the current, ongoing development of the rail network. It identifies that there is a slowdown already being seen and that if it continues, it will have an impact on the number of renewals right through to 2021 at a minimum. As a result of this, it is leading to companies deciding to refrain from investing in developing skills as well as new products. It has an effect on staff levels and significantly impacts confidence all of which could lead to smaller, more specialist companies going out of business.
Alongside an improved level of consistency in funding, RIA has requested that the Government offers a clear plan of enhancements in order to improve confidence for suppliers and in an attempt to maintain the right level of funding for all enhancements during Control Period 6 to match the levels that were seen during Control Period 5.
Following the cancellation of electrification schemes in 2017 by the Government, the RIA is now arguing that it wants electrification to continue to be an option while it collaborates with the rail industry as it seeks ways to reduce costs. It claims that the electrification is a solution that offers a significant benefit for those railways that are used intensively as it is good for the environment, has reduced noise levels and reduces journey times. The weight of the trains is less than that of the self-powered trains and that means that the track experiences a reduction in wear and tear. It also claims that the whole-life costs are a lot less than that of diesel services.