The Public Accounts Committee has published its report on the “Overview of the English rail system”. In the report, the Committee highlights a “disappointing lack of progress in agreeing a specific and funded plan for rail electrification”, which it says will pose risks to achieving the Government’s Net Zero targets.
It also points to a “’feast or famine’ approach” in electrification projects “which has directly caused boom and bust problems in the supply chain for the SMEs involved in the delivery of these projects and uncertainty for procurement of rolling stock.”
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), has responded: “It is positive to see the Public Accounts Committee making the case for a consistent programme of electrification work. Alongside battery and hydrogen train fleet orders, electrification is essential if we are to meet the Government’s Net Zero decarbonisation goals. As the Committee highlights, delivering a rolling programme of work, without the ‘boom and bust’ investment profiles we’ve seen in the past, is a cost-effective way to electrify the UK’s intensively used rail lines. This certainty will also help to retain key skills and enable innovation, supporting green jobs and economic growth at this crucial time.
“We look forward to working with the Government to build on these recommendations, and to deliver on the decarbonisation of the rail network ahead of COP26 at good value for the taxpayer, as our Rail Decarbonisation 21 campaign calls for.”