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How do we speed up rail project delivery, asks APPGI chair

07 July 2022

Andrew Jones MP welcomes responses to the Integrated Rail Plan consultation. 

How do we speed up rail project delivery, asks APPGI chair
The APPGI and the ICE have launched a research programme to find out how to deliver rail projects quicker. Image credit: Shutterstock

There is no real debate in parliament about the need for infrastructure investment in the UK.

Across the House, it’s recognised that it’s too expensive and too difficult to move people and goods around the UK.

There is some debate about what form investment should take.

HS2, for example, saw colleagues on different sides of the argument.

Championing projects that will make a difference locally is always a part of an MP’s role.

When people become impatient

There is plenty of debate about how long it takes to deliver once agreed.

When dealing with large and complex projects it’s inevitable that there will be many years before a project is live and we enjoy the benefits it delivers.

That is understood, but it’s often so long or simply so many years before the civils start that questions are raised and people become impatient.

Simply, the government wants to buy. The industry wants to deliver. The economy needs that delivery.

The question on delivery

So the questions about winning funding and commitment are already won.

The question on delivery is where the debate in parliament is.

Recognising both the need and the concerns, I had been wondering whether the All-Party Infrastructure Group could help.

And I had come to the conclusion the answer is yes.

There’s so much expertise in the sector that I was sure that a call out for ideas on how to accelerate delivery would be a productive exercise. And that call out has happened.

The consultation has started

Along with the ICE, the APPGI has launched a research programme on how to deliver quicker.

That question is so broad and ranges across the variety of infrastructure that it needed refining. More specific to be of more use.

The specific we have chosen is the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP).

Why the Integrated Rail Plan?

I was happy with this selection for a few reasons.

Firstly, there is significant scale, with a £96 billion programme.

When the government launched the IRP, one of the reasons for it was that it brought the benefits from the investment sooner than the previous plans.

That means a series of ideas to help achieve the plan, in line with the stated objective, is more likely to land well and be considered by decision makers.

Pushing at an open door

My experience of government, and business before, is that pushing at an open door is usually easier!

I know that sounds common sense, but in politics…

So this is a moment of opportunity.

It is a moment when I hope the industry will come forward with suggestions.

I hope to see innovations and particularly suggestions on the project planning and approval process, where we know so much time and money is spent.

The team which will steer the work is cross-party and draws upon expertise from both Houses, and has significant and senior ICE membership.

I am very grateful to those who are giving up their time to help. Interestingly, they did not need much persuading.

I hope that appetite is reflected across the industry and ideas come flooding in.

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  • Andrew Jones MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure (APPGI)