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More than half of rail businesses expect industry to stagnate in 2020, new poll says

Newly published poll by RIA finds that more than half of rail businesses expect industry to stagnate or contract in 2020.

A newly published survey of rail businesses by independent polling company ComRes has highlighted serious concerns about the coming year, as the rail sector faces continued uncertainty. 

The poll of 174 business leaders in the rail industry, carried out on behalf of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), found that:

  • More than half of businesses, 53%, do not expect the industry to grow in the coming year whilst 28% expect the industry to contract; and
  • Two in five (39%) rail industry leaders said they did not expect their business to grow, with 18% saying their business is likely to contract.

Darren Caplan, RIA chief executive, said: “This lack of confidence for 2020 is clearly a concern for the Railway Industry Association and its members. Many rail businesses have told us that the combination of a lack of visibility and consistency in upcoming rail work, delayed decision-making on major projects like HS2, Trans Pennine Route Upgrade and Crossrail 2, the major industry restructures with the Williams Rail Review and Network Rail’s reorganisation, and Brexit uncertainty, are all combining to dampen expectations for the year ahead.

“Given this background, it is more important than ever that, post general election, the new government – whatever its political makeup – provides some certainty to the sector as a matter of priority.

"It will need to work with Network Rail to immediately accelerate rail works in the new funding cycle CP6, where many members have experienced a slow start, commit to smoothing boom and bust in rail funding longer-term, ensure there is no hiatus in decision-making for major rail projects, commit to a rolling programme of enhancements schemes, including electrification, support innovation to decarbonise and digitalise the railway and work to promote rail in exports around the world.

"For our part, as the national voice of the rail supply community RIA will do all it can in 2020 to support rail businesses and campaign for a bigger and better supply sector next year, so that together we can address the concerns expressed in today’s poll.”

ComRes interviewed 174 railway business leaders in the UK rail supply chain between 10th July and 12th August 2019.