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RIA calls to end ‘boom and bust’ rail funding in budget

Electrification

The Rail Industry Association (RIA) has urged the government to end the “boom and bust” cycle of rail funding ahead of the Autumn Budget.

In the weeks leading up to the Budget, the lobbying body has submitted its wish list for the rail industry.

The submission includes a call to ensure the recently announced rail review does not stall investment in the rail industry, and a call for more funding for research and development (R&D) in rolling stock and electrification.

In July last year, transport secretary Chris Grayling scrapped plans to electrify track on the Midland Main Line and in South Wales and the North of England. At the time Grayling said bi-mode technology offered “seamless” transfer from diesel power to electric and the costly electrification projects were no longer necessary.

However, the rail body said it wants electrification brought back as an option for decarbonising the rail network.

RIA chief executive Darren Caplan said: “RIA continues to campaign for an end to ‘boom and bust’ rail funding – which does so much damage for the rail industry, particularly small and medium sized enterprises whose survival is threatened and puts jobs and investment at risk – and for electrification to be a key option as the government seeks to decarbonise the railway.”

It also said it wanted the government to increase funding for rolling stock R&D after regulator Office of Road and Rail’s (ORR) decision to grant Network Rail £100M in co-funding for R&D instead of the £440M requested. The ORR said that all of the money would have to be focused on infrastructure.

“Rail suppliers are happy to provide match funding in R&D, as shown by the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), a £92M partnership between industry and academia,” he said. “However, the lack of co-funding in CP6 [control period 6 from 2019 to 2024] will make it difficult for multinational companies to make the case for R&D in the UK, due to the high risks involved when they are often able to obtain match funding in other countries.

“So we urge the government to provide match funding for rolling stock R&D urgently, before CP6 begins.”

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