ICE’s submission to the Williams Rail Review

ICE has made a submission to the Williams Rail Review. It sets out the key steps that we believe are necessary to improve UK rail provision.

ICE has identified eight recommendations to ensure that UK train passengers and businesses are able to benefit from a high-performing rail network.

Recommendations for Government

  • Government should replace stop-start funding periods with a longer-term rail investment pipeline, particularly with the significant amount of investment required in the Digital Railway and decarbonisation of the rail network. This will help provide certainty to the industry and investors and foster a culture of innovation and skills development.
  • A simplified interface and standard model of transition across franchises is required, with the primary focus on improved performance and cost efficiency.
  • ICE agrees with the Williams Rail Review that passengers should be at the heart of the railway, but also emphasises that safety should continue to be a high priority, building on the positive steps taken over the past two decades.

Recommendations for Network Rail

  • ICE welcomes further devolution of the rail network in order to achieve better services and more targeted investment, but we believe that there should be a good operational balance, for example through long-term investment planning, high quality national intercity rail services and ensuring that rail freight remains competitive, between central and devolved networks under Network Rail’s structure.
  • Progress should continue to be made in delivering the Digital Railway programme. This is fundamental to transforming the passenger network and delivering a modern railway that can accommodate more trains, greater and faster connections, and better reliability. The successful delivery of the programme will also mean more efficient rail freight operations through timetable flexibility, a greater availability of paths and optimised running.

Cross-cutting recommendations

  • Industry, government and the supply chain should work together to develop a long-term, integrated training model to ensure better decision-making and better outcomes for the rail sector in the future. This should begin at apprentice level and continue as lifelong learning through to leadership and management.
  • The benefits of the Infrastructure Client Group’s Project 13 approach must be considered in project and programme delivery. This would enable long-term relationships and closer collaboration on major rail programmes and projects, allowing suppliers and advisors to better know their customers and adapt and develop appropriate methods and products for their needs. Engaging the supply chain earlier and more strategically will also foster an environment where innovation in terms of both products and processes can be brought to the fore, increasing the chance of successful and productive deployment.
  • Combined responsibility for local development, infrastructure and service delivery together with contractual incentives will go some way to improving the current system. Consideration must also be given to joining up rail enhancements with wider planning issues across local authorities.

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