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A Strategic Vision for Rail

30 November 2017

John Mooney

RBA warmly welcomes the November 2017 publication of the Department for Transport’s future plans –Connecting people – a Strategic Vision for Rail.

Passenger numbers are now at record levels (up to 1.7 billion rail journeys each year) and demand is still rising. However, capacity on the network and the customer experience, are not where they should be to support a growing economy. This important DfT document sets out how £48 billion will be invested in rail between 2019 and 2024. There are no surprises in the themes set out in the strategy, but the key investment areas we at RBA particularly welcome are around:

  • Investment in asset renewals, reflecting the significant age of much of the infrastructure
  • Proposals for capacity enhancement, both through track and junction improvements, and also more rolling stock
  • Longer franchises suggested, with an emphasis on much better alignment of track and train through new regional partnerships. At RBA, we believe that the current trend for 7 – 8 year franchises is much too short to allow for sustained and significant capital investment at a TOC level.
  • A better deal for passengers through simpler compensation processes when things go wrong, and smart ticketing
  • Investment in careers, skills and training, and we particularly welcome targets around the numbers of apprentices taken on through the franchising process
  • Continued investment in innovation, with a new round of innovation funding competitions promised.

RBA staff and associates are looking forward to working with DfT, Network Rail, other rail agencies, major engineering companies and train operators to realise the benefits that will surely come through this ambitious strategy.

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