ACE welcomes transport committee’s call for increased regional rail spending

Aging Pacer trains at Darlington station.

The Association for Consultancy and Engineering has welcomed the House of Commons transport committee’s report into rail infrastructure investment. 

The report argues that the previously cancelled rail electrification schemes in the Midlands, south Wales and Lake District should be added to a new long-term rolling programme of investment, while urging the government to address regional funding gaps more directly.

The report, Rail Infrastructure Investment, written by the committee’s cross-party group of MPs which is chaired by Lilian Greenwood MP, sets out actions to “rebuild confidence in the Department for Transport and Network Rail”. 

Chair of ACE’s rail group, Alan Price of Jacobs, who gave evidence to the committee in February, says: “The report highlights the need for government to address regional imbalances. While a lot more needs to be done to realise the potential of the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine, we welcome the committee’s consideration of new rolling stock technologies which could be more applicable to some lines and make genuine improvements for the passenger more affordable.”

The report also suggests funding and process changes for Network Rail’s upcoming control period, CP6. It echoes evidence given by ACE to the committee, arguing that:

  • There is a “strong case” for taking enhancements out of the five-year control period.
  • More transparency about the enhancements pipeline and decision-making processes within the department is needed.
  • A mechanism to smooth out investment from the start of the control period to the end should be introduced.

Alan Price added: “I am delighted that our calls for reform of the control period have been echoed by the committee. The Department for Transport wants to encourage alternative funding for rail projects from private sources, but this potential can only be realised if we have an improved and more transparent process.”

ACE’s rail group brings together consultancy and engineering firms, with a particular interest in rail, to help shape ACE’s policy in this area. Members include: AECOM, Alan Baxter, Amey, Arcadis, Arup, BWB Consulting, Cass Hayward, Fairhurst, Jacobs, Rail Power Solutions, Ramboll, Tony Gee and Partners, Turner and Townsend, Waterman and WSP.

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