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Working together as one railway, delivering one vital public service, in a million-and-one local ways

Paul Plummer's speech at the launch of 'In Partnership for Britain's Prosperity'

  • Four commitments to the economy, to customers, to communities and to the people of Britain, for this generation and the next
  • Commitments that will frame and guide decision-making by rail companies across Britain
  • Railway companies will demonstrate what these commitments mean for their customers and communities locally

This morning, Rail Delivery Group Chief Executive Paul Plummer gave a speech to mark the launch of In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity, a ‘single plan’ for Britain’s railway.

The plan, backed by business and passenger groups, makes four commitments for change to build on the railway’s progress of the last 20 years. It includes new independent research which shows how a changing partnership railway will secure almost £85bn of additional economic benefits for the country by connecting people to jobs, housing and new business opportunities. This is in addition to the existing £31bn of economic benefits the railway delivers each year now.

To strengthen and improve the partnership railway in the long-term, rail companies have made these four commitments for change:

  • Commitment 1 - Strengthen the railway’s contribution to the economy, keeping running costs in the black, freeing up taxpayers’ money;
  • Commitment 2 - Increase customer satisfaction by improving the railway to remain the top-rated major railway in Europe;
  • Commitment 3 - Boost local communities through localised decision making and investment;
  • Commitment 4 – Create more jobs, increase diversity and provide our employees with rewarding careers.

Paul said:
“Working together as one railway, delivering one vital public service, in a million-and-one local ways. A once-in-a-generation opportunity. This is our plan for a real Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity.”

Our Commitments for Partnership Railway

Paul Plummer, CEO Rail Delivery Group
Monday 30 October

Thank you to everyone for joining us this morning at St Pancras. A part of north London which has already seen tremendous investment in Kings Cross, St Pancras and Euston.
I am delighted to see the whole rail industry coming together today with so many leading figures from our industry here including front-line employees who work so hard to deliver this vital public service.

And to be joined by representatives from business, passenger and freight groups who understand how important the railway is to the economy, customers and communities right across the country.

Today, I want to talk about the future of the railway.

The railway as an innovative, changing public service, bringing benefits to the national economy as well as to local communities. Strengthening our economic contribution, and safeguarding the best deal for the taxpayers.

It is such an integral part of our lives that it is easy to forget how recent it is.

Only after 1830, with the opening of the first intercity railway between Liverpool and Manchester, was high-speed transit possible.

And it happened here - in the United Kingdom.

Today, 85% of the British population lives within three miles of a railway station.

In the sweep of our history, the past 190 years is a heart-beat, a tick of the clock.

But we’ve only just begun.

During the next 18 months, customers and communities across the country will begin to see unprecedented improvements in the railway with more trains, better services and improved stations. This promises to create more and better opportunities for our people while enabling improved productivity and economic growth throughout Britain.

To secure these benefits while enabling further investment, the rail industry must commit to further improvement. This is why train and freight operators, Network Rail and their supply chains, a partnership of the public and private sectors, are working together with a plan for change.

Our plan is called In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity It is our plan for a changing and improving railway which secures extra economic benefits, supports local businesses, delivers better services for customers, connects communities and builds a skilled and long-term future for our people.

It includes four commitments, which we, the partnership railway, will deliver for the UK now and for the long term.

The first commitment is to strengthen the railway’s contribution to the national economy, keeping running costs in the black, and freeing up taxpayers’ money.

The railway runs on the basis of partnership, combining the best of both worlds, avoiding opposites.

Commercial companies delivering a public service, with publicly-owned railway tracks and stations. Taxpayers’ money and investors’ money combining to deliver improvements for the public.

It’s a partnership which delivers the investment and the innovation we need and it will also help us to secure nearly £85bn of extra economic benefits for the UK economy while enabling further investment and improvement.

And we must not forget that these benefits and the investment and innovation of a partnership railway would be put in jeopardy if it wasn’t funded by a combination of public and private investment.

Of the over £50 billion being invested, more than £11 billion is coming from the private sector, delivering smart new carriages and more services.

And we must remember, in 1997, the railway ran at a £2 billion a year loss of operating costs.

Today, we run a surplus, allowing government to increasingly focus its resources on investment in rail and other public services.

As we all know, the number of passengers has doubled in the last 20 years and it’s not just people that we carry it is also materials, food and consumer goods.

Rail freight has a key role to play in the low carbon economy as rail produces 76% less CO2 emissions than the equivalent road journey. As one railway, we will continue investing billions of pounds into the next decade, delivering for economies and businesses.

We will improve and change. We will develop vibrant markets, increasing competition for franchises to boost innovation and efficiency. And we will better deliver for the economy, customers and communities.

So this is Commitment One – a changing and improving railway as the economic backbone of Britain.

Commitment Two is to increase customer satisfaction by improving the railway to remain the top-rated major railway in Europe.

Change, beginning today, means the most transparent performance and punctuality measures in Europe.

It means simpler ticketing, quicker journeys, and better value for money.

It means continuing to invest including 5,700 new carriages on the track by 2021.

It means us backing a new ombudsman – trusted and independent - in place by summer 2018.

And by the end of next year, customers will be able to use mobile phones as tickets on seven out of ten journeys.

We will embrace the transformative power of the digital revolution to deliver better information, smarter ticketing, better data for decisionmakers, and more choices and flexibility for customers.

A digital railway, with fewer delays, faster information, better access for all customers, including more ramps, more step- free stations and a single number for mobility assistance.
An improving railway, providing an enhanced experience for individual customers, whatever their needs.

So these two first commitments outline how the partnership railway is committed to the economy and customers.

Now – Commitment Three. To boost local communities through local decision- making, investment and discounted travel.

The railway did not start 190 years ago in London.

It started in the industrial powerhouses of the North. It created jobs and opportunities across Britain, in places like York, and Crewe and Derby.

It boosted seaside towns like Brighton, Blackpool and Bridlington. Always, the railway was about boosting local trade, local industry, local hotels, local farmers and their communities and our third commitment is all about how we reinforce our dedication through a local partnership railway.

This means 178 stations enhanced over the next two years as part of the ongoing £5bn upgrade program.

New stations like Warrington West, Reading Park West and Bow Street near Aberystwyth.

And it means 100,000 job opportunities across the UK.

New route supervisory boards creating a stronger focus on local customers and communities.

New opportunities for small and medium enterprises across the supply chain.

New investment in major projects: the Elizabeth Line, Ordsall Chord, Borders Railway in Scotland, Thameslink expansion, and many others to come.

When the railway comes to town, it means new homes, new shops, new businesses, new schools, and new jobs.

And now to our fourth commitment that’s about the people who keep the railway working day in day out – our employees.

I am delighted to have a number of them here today, from across the partnership railway.

We value our brilliant people, and we will continue to invest in them. Investing in greater diversity more apprenticeships and creating the next generation of world-class drivers - led by the National Train Driver Academy and wider training partners.

In addition to the 100,000 job opportunities, we will deliver 20,000 apprenticeships, helping the next generation get the skills the they need.

And the partnership railway will play its part in ensuring that Britain continues to be an attractive place for skilled workers, innovators and investors as we leave the European Union.

A skilled workforce for a changing and improving railway for this generation and the next.

We want a railway that reflects the diverse customer we serve, an industry of all talents that takes our people with us.

That’s why we’re committing to a 20% increase in women and black, Asian and minority ethnic employees across Britain by 2020.

By nurturing untapped talent with high-skilled training – right across the country, we’ll build a stronger team now and for the long term.

So - these are our four commitments.

Four areas for partnership, continuous improvement and change.

Four ways in which the customer will experience real improvements.

Four ways in which we will deliver a world-class partnership railway, anchored in a progressive relationship between private and public, large companies and small businesses, passenger groups and local people.

We’ve come a long way since the opening of the Manchester-Liverpool railway in 1830.

We’ve come a long way since the 1990s, when the partnership model was enacted in legislation. We’ve made great progress, but we all know there is so much more to do.
And let’s be clear:

These social and economic benefits can only be guaranteed by the partnership railway changing, improving, investing and innovating.

So let us back this plan delivered by working together - new and old, national and local, north, south, east and west: delivering national benefits at a local level.

Working together as one railway, delivering one vital public service, in a million-and-one local ways. A once-in-a-generation opportunity.

This is our plan for a real Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity.

And the landmark coming together of the industry to launch this plan is just the start.

We will use these commitments to frame and guide our decision-making.

Railway companies will demonstrate what these commitments mean for their customers and communities locally.

This is our commitment to the economy, to customers, to communities and to the people of Britain, for this generation and the next.

Thank you



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