Weekly Newsletter

22 March 2024

Weekly Newsletter

22 March 2024

Four years on, UK rail pipeline remains “unpublished”

The Association criticised the government for not updating the RNEP which it said would be published annually

Patrick Rhys Atack March 18 2024

The UK’s Railway Industry Association has complained the country’s central Government is lagging behind its promised schedule for updating its future rail project policy, its Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP). 

It has been four years, four months, and four days since the last Department for Transport announcement (in October 2019) on RNEP, despite the DfT’s own commitment to update the industry every 12 months. 

The RIA said the wider rail industry, including suppliers and external investors, suffered from the lack of overarching government plans.

“Given the budget for the RNEP is roughly £10bn over five years, there should be a clear and visible plan for how this money will be spent,” RIA CEO Darren Caplan said. 

“It is concerning that four years, four months, four weeks and four days since the last announcement on RNEP projects, the pipeline remains unpublished,” he added. 

The railways industry body pointed to the government’s own “Construction Playbook”, published in 2022, which aimed to communicate the importance of planning and maintaining industry confidence in government plans.

“One of the most important things we can do is to prepare, maintain and publish comprehensive pipelines of current and future government contracts and commercial activity,” it said. 

The RIA has asked four questions, in keeping with its message of a ‘quartet’ of RNEP issues. 

Which rail schemes are under business plan development?

What business plan stage have the schemes progressed to?

What funding has been approved?

What are the potential timescales for delivery?

“Piecemeal announcements have been made on individual projects but there is no comprehensive view on future enhancement plans for the railway. The Government should set out which rail schemes within the RNEP, the new Network North proposals, and the Integrated Rail Plan for the North & Midlands, will go ahead. It should also make clear if it intends to change, scrap or replace the RNEP process,” Caplan said. 

“Rail suppliers need clarity on which enhancement projects will proceed to deliver best value to passengers, freight and taxpayers in the long-term.”

The Department for Transport spokesperson told Railway Technology “We are committed to delivering improvements across our rail network… We are reviewing the Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline and will set out next steps in due course.”

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