By Daniel Hunter
The Government needs to provide further rail investment to support economic growth, according to a coalition of business and transport groups.
The British Chambers of Commerce, Campaign for Better Transport, The Centre for Cities and the Passenger Transport Executive Group have written to George Osborne to urge him to provide more investment for the UK’s rail network.
The call comes as the Government prepares to publish its rail investment plans up to 2019 next month. This ‘High Level Output Specification’ forms the basis for Network Rail regulation and rail franchise investment. The joint letter calls on the Chancellor to use this to promote and support continued investment in the rail network in order to help stimulate the economy, boost the labour market and reduce carbon emissions.
Adam Marshall, Director of Policy & External Affairs, British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Continued rail investment in the UK rail network is crucial to economic growth. Schemes like the Northern Hub and electrification of the existing lines are crucial alongside plans to build new a high speed rail network, and will bring faster, more efficient journeys that will help generate growth in the regions. Business supports long-term strategic investment to improve our rail infrastructure, rather than simply looking to short-term fixes. Only with good quality infrastructure in place will our businesses be able to thrive and deliver the growth we need to get the economy growing.”
Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive, Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Passenger and freight rail use is growing, even during the recession, and we need to see continued investment to maintain this. A thriving rail network will help the Government meet challenging carbon reduction targets and provide other environmental benefits, including better air quality and less noise pollution.”
Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive, Centre for Cities, said: “Improving rail links between and within the UK’s urban areas, which provide nearly three-quarters of the UK’s most highly skilled jobs, would provide much-needed support to these engines of the UK economy. A thriving rail network links people to jobs and businesses to sales opportunities. It can also help cities seeking to buck the trend of out-of-town office parks and revitalise their city centres. Investment in rail infrastructure is essential for economic growth, both now and in the longer term.”
Geoff Inskip, Chief Executive, Centro and Chair of the Passenger Transport Executive Group, said: “Our major cities are economic powerhouses but can do much more in supporting and securing the UK’s future prosperity. If they are to realise their full potential we must invest in those parts of our passenger and freight networks that can deliver the growth and jobs we need and support High Speed Rail.”
The letter also calls on the Chancellor to support the key proposals in the railway industry’s Initial Industry Plan, including further electrification, the fully funded Northern Hub scheme and the smaller funds for upgrading other parts of the network, improving stations and adding capacity at pinch points.
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