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December 5, 2013

UK needs a long-term rail strategy: Arriva boss

The UK managing director of Arriva, Bob Holland, has criticised the UK government for failing to develop a long-term rail strategy.

By Lucy Ingham

The proposed route of phase one and phase two of HS2

The UK managing director of Arriva, Bob Holland, has criticised the UK government for failing to develop a long-term rail strategy.

Speaking at The Future of Rail conference in London, he argued that more needs to be done to develop a plan for the future of UK rail.

"Not to have a 30+year review on how the railway should work is criminal," said Holland. "HS2 is not a rail strategy."

Holland also argued that competition needs to be encouraged on UK rail. "I passionately believe there should be more rail-on-rail competition."

He rejected suggestions that competition leads to increased government subsidy, citing the East Coast as an example of where it has worked.

"On the East Coast where there is competition, growth in the market has been dramatically higher than where it doesn’t exist."

Holland’s talk followed a speech by the recently appointed Minister of State for Transport, Baroness Kramer, entitled "Setting out strategic priorities for the rail sector". In the speech, she highlighted the importance of HS2 for the UK.

She also focused on the importance of sustainable growth within the industry, citing an expected 14% rise in passenger numbers and 4% in freight over the next 15 years.

"The principle challenge for UK railway is how to grow in a sustainable and profitable way," said Kramer.

While she did not set out any specific strategies, Kramer argued that partnerships need to play a major role and that accessibility should be at the core of any future development.


Image: The proposed route of phase one and phase two of HS2. Image: courtesy of © Crown Copyright

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