The UK’s £96 billion Integrated Rail Plan sets out a vision to transform rail in the North and Midlands. However, a year on from its publication the future of the strategy is uncertain.
This paper draws on evidence from expert stakeholders, including engineering companies and subnational government and transport bodies about what needs to happen to accelerate delivery of this vital investment.
It sets out recommendations to help optimise the decision-making, planning and delivery of major rail projects. These aim to reduce cost and time overruns, and ensure rail investment delivers key social, economic and environmental outcomes.
Develop the IRP into an approved pipeline of projects around which industry, the supply chain and other stakeholders can plan with certainty
Deciding which projects to advance should be transparent and evidence-based, assessed according to the outcomes being targeted and the impact of projects on local communities.
This will help to mitigate future objections and ensure the pipeline is resilient to political change. Robustly applying the Green Book principles will help this process.
To minimise further delays, consideration should also be given to how the approvals process for those projects can be streamlined.
Publish an integrated investment plan setting out a continuous programme of how and when the investment in the IRP will be spent
This will help to mitigate the risks from inflation and competition for investment and maintain industry and public confidence in the overall strategy.
It will also set out a pathway of progressive benefits and service improvements set to arise from the investment, which could be vital for building public support in the face of future disruption to existing services.
Develop a national transport strategy to strengthen strategic infrastructure planning and delivery in England
Delivering the IRP is not contingent on having a national transport strategy, but its development highlights some of the issues a strategy could help address.
An overarching strategic vision for transport would promote evidence-based decision-making to ensure major projects align with long-term national objectives.
It could also help maximise the synergies between projects to develop an integrated, multi-modal transport network responsive to the needs of the public.
The National Networks NPS review currently underway could be an appropriate vehicle for developing such a strategy.
Use collaborative delivery models to enable efficient delivery of the IRP projects
This could include enterprise-based delivery models, such as Project 13, which develop long-term partnerships based on capabilities and behaviours and use incentive mechanisms that focus on project outcomes.
Prioritise meaningful engagement with key stakeholders throughout the project life cycle, including industry, subnational government and transport bodies, and the public
This will help ensure projects are responsive to local needs and maximise the wider benefits, including integration within a multi-modal transport network. In the delivery phase, it will help unlock the benefits of collaborative models.
Active stakeholder participation can utilise local knowledge and networks to help mitigate delivery risks and manage the extensive disruption to existing services and minimise the impact on the public.
Apply the following principles to future decisions about the IRP pipeline
- Base investment decisions on robust and transparent evidence to ensure the IRP delivers the intended environmental, economic and social outcomes. This will maintain the link between the intervention and the needs of the passengers and regions being targeted. There should be clearly defined metrics for measuring the success of the interventions.
- Align rail investment with the UK’s climate mitigation and adaptation needs. Infrastructure projects must demonstrate their environmental impact and how they contribute to the UK’s decarbonisation and resilience agenda in comparison to other options.
- Rail investment should help reduce regional economic and social inequalities. Specific objectives should be identified using local needs assessments developed through community engagement. However, economic benefits and environmental objectives must be mutually reinforcing for either to succeed.
- Individual projects in the IRP must be developed in synergy with other active travel and public transport links. This will help build a multi-modal transport network that is responsive to public needs and enables convenient end-to-end journeys for passengers and freight.
APPGI and ICE policy paper: Accelerating delivery of the Integrated Rail Plan
Content type: Policy
Last updated: 18/10/2022