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Is there a case for rail infrastructure investment after COVID?

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23 September 2021

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The pandemic has changed human behaviour across many facets of modern life. For some, technology has enabled a shifting trend towards working at home, whilst for others it remains a necessity to continue working at location for certain industries. As the UK unlocks the case for rail infrastructure spend needs to be considered. In such a shifting landscape, what is certain is that capital infrastructure schemes, plus the general operation of the railway, must have a greater resilience against change and unpredictability of ridership trends. To ensure schemes are adequately robust, their business case and design must have a greater degree of flexibility than ever before with focus on optioneering over granular detail.

In this expert panel discussion, Louise Coward from industry research group, Transport Focus, presents findings from its research on people’s travel behaviours and attitudes through the pandemic and presents the ‘user-perspective’ into the discussion. Mike Goggin, UK Managing Director for Steer, and technical advisor to the Williams Rail Review will explore what this may mean on future travel trends post Covid-19 and the demands and requirements that this may place on running a successful railway in the immediate future. Leading UK Economist, and Commissioner for the National Infrastructure Commission, Bridget Rosewell, explores what these trends may mean for the successful operation of the UK railway into the mid-21st century.

This lecture is hosted by the Department of Transport’s Chief Engineer, David Coles.


David Coles

David Coles

Department for Transport

chief engineer

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David Coles

David joined the Department for Transport’s High Speed 2 Rail Group in 2016 and was appointed chief engineer for the whole department in 2020. He leads a team advising on technical and operational aspects of DfT’s infrastructure projects, their influence on cost, value and risk and where we should be looking to innovate. 

He is a chartered civil engineer and director and fellow of both those institutions and former chairman of the Railway Civil Engineers’ Association.

In 2020 he completed the Infrastructure Project Authority’s Major Projects Leadership Academy and in 2021 he was elected to ICE Council.

For more information please contact:

Elira Alushi