Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has called for more private sector investment in the rail industry.
Delivering the 2016 George Bradshaw Address at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) in London, McLoughlin said it is essential that more opportunities for private funding are created alongside the Government’s commitment to invest in the railway.
McLoughlin highlighted examples of Northern and TransPennine franchises which he said has brought in over £1.2bn of private sector investment in those railways.
“The network is a key public service, but to make the best of it we need to draw on wider sources of funding,” he said. “The future will need to create more opportunity for private investment alongside public funding.
“This is essential in helping us maintain a balanced rail economy while we continue to invest in our future and at the same time safely manage the public debt. And put together these things – responsiveness, technology, investment and reform – will make the next few decades the most exciting, ever, for our railways.”
During the address, McLoughlin outlined the key areas that he believes are essential for the future of the railway: flexibility, technology and reform. He said this will require change from government as well as industry to improve adaptability to new ideas and markets, increase engagement with technology, and ultimately ensure that all of these areas are connected effectively.
“Today, there is confusion as to who is responsible for what. That holds things back and it adds cost and inefficiency,” he said. “The answer isn’t to lump everything together, let alone put the state in sole charge, but common sense reform, so that a system which works today can work even better. Untangling the knots so that… we can bring in new ways of finding more funding and use it better to cope with growth.”