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New funding models needed for rail industry

News   •   Feb 09, 2017 13:39 GMT

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New funding models are crucial to giving the UK’s rail industry continuity of project flow to support growth in innovation and skills according to a report published by Balfour Beatty.

In the report ‘Staying on Track’, the ability for the government to deliver improvements to the UK’s rail infrastructure is “critically dependent” on the industry having the appropriate skills and technology both now and in the medium term.

As the rail network plays a key role in driving and enabling economic expansion, it is crucial that more project pipeline certainty is provided.

Without this, the report says that investment in capability, R&D and critical strategic equipment, cannot be justified.

Another consequence of project pipeline uncertainty is that skilled engineers could end up leaving the rail industry – whether through retirement or poached by other sectors.

The potential loss of overseas workers should the government fail to strike an agreement in its Brexit negotiations should is also a significant concern.

These underlying issues would also see a reduction in investment in new technology and productivity.

The ability of the government to fulfil its planned infrastructure improvements, as part of its wider industrial strategy, would be thrown into serious doubt.

The report also suggests that the rail industry urgently revamp its image when it comes to perceptions of poor performance, diversity and career development within cutting-edge disciplines such as BIM and associated digital construction processes.

Balfour Beatty Chief Executive, Leo Quinn, commented: “The current combination of low-cost borrowing, a general appetite for infrastructure assets and growing demand for train capacity are a powerful catalyst for accelerating the development of our national rail network.

“However, the scale of investment this requires of the sector’s suppliers makes it imperative to provide long-term certainty in the project pipeline. This means cracking the code on the underlying funding model. The prize is to develop a world-class rail industry in terms of innovation and capability, and provide jobs for many thousands of people.”

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