A key MP has warned contractors to become more efficient at delivering transport schemes.
Transport under secretary Claire Perry told delegates at NCE’s UK Rail 2015 conference in London yesterday to “sharpen your project-cost pencils”.
The Devizes MP said that although the government had pledged to invest £100bn over this Parliament, it was looking for maximum value in return.
“We have to use the next five years to become more efficient,” she said.
“Although this is a great time to be part of the rail engineering industry, as far as this government’s concerned, it’s not boom time.
“Every pound we spend over the next five years must be made to count.
“That’s the responsibility of the government when it allocates the money, and it’s also the responsibility of infrastructure professionals when you use the money.
“So your task is to sharpen your project-cost pencils. And treat taxpayers’ money as if it is your own – which after all, it is,” she told delegates.
Speaking on National Women in Engineering Day, Perry called for more work from companies to recruit female staff.
“I urge the rail infrastructure industry to do whatever it takes to open the door to women,” she said.
“I am sure there is more the industry itself can do.
“Perhaps by signing up your organisation to the national Inspiring Women campaign, which has already sent 15,000 women into schools to talk about their careers.
“Or by taking a hard look at what puts women off from careers in rail infrastructure, and making urgent changes.”
Perry also backed High Speed 2 chairman David Higgins’ rallying cry in NCE against the “disease” of fatalism.
“I believe that the cause of the fatalistic disease is that we have come to accept a sticking-plaster approach to our national infrastructure,” said Perry.
“Somewhere along the line, the birthplace of Brunel became the country of make-do and mend.
“Over the next five years, we have to cure this disease.
“So, as David Higgins pointed out, while others are talking, debating the pros and cons, we need you to be doing.
“Quietly carrying on, defying the doubters and the ditherers.”