UK: Lack of Government Updates Causing Project Uncertainty Warns RIA

It has now been over 900 days since the UK government published its Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP) and a lack of updates is causing uncertainty around upcoming rail upgrades says the Railway Industry Association (RIA).

The topic of an RNEP update was last discussed in Parliament in February, when Rail Minister Wendy Morton said the g overnment was committed to publishing an update “shortly”.

Power supply boost in latest stage of Midland Main Line Upgrade
Power supply boost in latest stage of Midland Main Line Upgrade

The RNEP is a list of planned upgrades to the railway network set to take place in between 2019 and 2024, including schemes such as increasing freight capacity in Cumbria and the Heathrow Western Rail Link.

The pipeline is also likely to determine when projects set out in the Integrated Rail Plan will be built, including the electrification of the Midland Main Line, Transpennine Route Upgrade and East Coast Main Line signalling upgrades.

However, despite a government commitment to annual updates and regular requests from the RIA, nothing new has been published since October 2019 and the status of many projects is now uncertain.

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said:

“The continued delay to the RNEP, now two and half years since the last update, leaves businesses unaware of upcoming rail investment plans, impacting their ability to invest and support economic growth around the country.

“We regularly hear from rail suppliers that they struggle to plan for the years ahead with such little certainty about which projects will be given the green light in the coming years.

“In what is a complex and highly skilled sector like rail, this uncertainty hamstrings businesses’ ability to deliver cost effectively, and risks adding costs and delays to key upgrades.

“With only around 100 days until parliamentary recess, we urge the Government to publish this list.”

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