The UK Railway Industry Association has urged the UK government to encourage new rolling stock orders in a new report that claims thousands of jobs could be at risk if some of the country’s major train factories run out of work in 12 months.
The “UK Rolling Stock Industry – making 2023 the year of opportunity not crisis” report found that there are no orders for new or upgraded rolling stock in the UK currently and work on existing orders will finish by 2026 leaving factories to face possible closure.
RIA’s technical director David Clark said any rolling stock factory closures could have a “deeply damaging impact” on the industry, which employs over 30,000 people and it was clear that new orders were required.
Clark explained: “These should be ‘no-regrets’ decisions for the government as they wouldn’t require upfront taxpayer investment but would result in a broad range of benefits, from retaining jobs to immediate carbon and air quality improvement and a better experience for passengers.”
The RIA claims that the only significant order for new or upgraded trains in the last three and a half years has been the HS2 order in December 2021, with many UK operators choosing to order from manufacturers based abroad, such as TfL’s DLR order with Spain-based Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF).
Alongside being necessary for the survival of the UK’s rail manufacturing industry, the RIA also said in the report that many of the country’s trains are outdated and need replacing to avoid higher running costs and poorer experiences for passengers in the future.
Four key recommendations are made in the report to address the issue including that government clients should make decisions this year to upgrade or replace the c2600 vehicles currently on the network by 2030 and consider decisions for the c1650 DMUs.
The RIA report called on the government to work with the organisation on a long-term strategy for rolling stock and decarbonisation.
Another recommendation is to replace the goal of removing all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040, with an ambition to not purchase new diesel-only trains and to “maximise the cumulative reduction of carbon by the most appropriate means through both direct decarbonisation of rail and through modal shift”.
The RIA has previously echoed concerns from the Transport Select Committee about the government’s response to a decarbonisation report on the rail industry, saying that the rate of rail decarbonisation was far behind other modes of transport.