The UK Railway Industry Association (RIA) has expressed its concern over the lack of a government update on the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP) after waiting a year and 111 days.
Despite issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the RIA urged the UK Government to publish an update on the RENP as soon as possible so that rail businesses can plan for future works.
“Whilst we are not doubting the support the government has given the industry over the past year, and we of course recognise the huge impact of the coronavirus pandemic, rail businesses are simply calling for no more than visibility on the government’s thinking on upcoming projects, following repeated commitments to keep the supply sector updated on their progress,” commented RIA chief executive Darren Caplan.
“This is not about budget, it is simply a call for clarity on future work, whatever that thinking is,” he added. “These schemes – including new tracks or electrification of routes – are vital in ensuring the rail industry not just builds the world-class railway of the future but also supports current jobs, investment and economic growth at an essential time for the economy, as the network gets ready for when passengers return post-coronavirus.”
Originally published by the UK Government in March 2018, the RENP outlines a rolling programme of investments and rail upgrade projects planned for England and Wales.
In the last update, which was published in October 2019, projects were divided into three categories: decision to initiate, decision to develop and decision to design.
Decision to initiate projects are still at the early stages of consideration, while decision to develop projects have progressed to the first stages and are working towards outlining a business case.
Projects under the decision to design scheme have reached the final stage and are waiting for technical works to be finalised.