Rail can be an economic anchor post-Brexit as jobs grow 24,000 in two years

The rail industry can be an ‘anchor in stormy seas’, providing some surety and helping to deliver the prosperity needed post-Brexit, a leading figure has said in the first rail industry address following the election.

As the ‘economic backbone’ of the country, in uncertain times rail has the power to create secure jobs with “high skills, decent pay and long-term prospects” across Britain, Chris Burchell, chairman of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), said.

Chris Burchell

New independent analysis commissioned by the RDG, which represents train and freight operators and Network Rail, shows that there are 24,000 more people working for the railway and its supply chain compared to two years ago, growth of 11 per cent in contrast to a 3% increase in employment across the country. The increase in rail jobs is in construction, technology and engineering roles.

Experts have forecast more than 100,000 job opportunities in the railway in the next ten years, creating ‘more long-term, secure jobs…more opportunities, more taxpayers and more national wealth.’ It comes as rail companies and their suppliers work together to deliver a £50billion plus upgrade plan that is making journeys better, supporting economic growth and delivering for communities across Britain.

Nationally, further new analysis from independent consultancy Oxera shows the industry and its supply chain contribute up to £10.4bn in Gross Value added each year to the British economy, the equivalent of one quarter of the UK’s entire schools budget.

Mr Burchell, also Managing Director of UK Trains at Arriva, said at the National Rail Conference in Birmingham (15 June):

“We should be proud of our role as a major national employer. Ours is a genuine growth industry for skills and jobs.

“Rail companies and their supply chain now employ 240,000 people, and as we invest to improve we will continue to secure more long-term jobs on the railway.

“Investment in rail is improving Britain’s railway now and for the long-term, making journeys better and delivering for local communities. This is a massive opportunity for social and economic good. 

Mr Burchell highlighted the importance of the railway to Britain’s future economy.

“As we invest, we will create more long-term, secure jobs, and that means more opportunities, more taxpayers, more national wealth. This is what the railway is offering the next generation of young people thinking about their future.

“In an uncertain world and an uncertain United Kingdom, the railway - long the economic backbone of this country - can provide some surety, be an anchor in stormy seas, and help deliver the prosperity we seek post-Brexit.

“As the system expands, more jobs will be needed, and I am determined we will attract the brightest and best at every level. The Rail Delivery Group is ready to play its part in leading and delivering a positive forward agenda for customers, communities and staff delivered by one industry team progressing one clear, forward plan.”

Notes to editors

The RDG commissioned independent consultants Oxera to update their analysis from 2015 (What is the contribution of rail to the UK economy? (2015)). Oxera found that, based on figures from the Office of National Statistics, the rail industry and its supply chain now employ up to 240,000 people compared to up to 216,000 people in 2015 - the full update can be viewed as an infographic (What is the contribution of rail to the UK economy? (2017)). The analysis was first carried out in 2014 (What is the contribution of rail to the UK economy? (2014)).

Chris Burchell's speech is available on our website.

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