Railway ‘must harness new technology and change the way we work’, say industry leaders
After a decade of growth and investment, Britain’s railway is at a ‘crucial turning point’ and must harness the latest technology and smarter ways of working to further improve services, grow the economy and create jobs, say rail industry leaders.
Twenty-seven leading figures in the industry, including the biggest rail companies and manufacturers of thousands of new, modern trains make their case in an open letter to The Times newspaper today (21 November). At the same time, the industry is publishing a report setting out how changes are essential to address the capacity challenge facing Britain's railway and to make train travel more reliable, more accessible, more affordable and more comfortable.
The report by the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, Network Rail and High Speed 2, shows how technology on new trains, in new signalling systems and in the way tickets can be bought and used will benefit customers and change jobs in the rail industry.
Train companies already employ 30 per cent more staff than 20 years ago. Forecasts suggest that rail companies and the rail supply chain will need 100,000 new recruits over the next 10 years to take on new roles and to replace retiring workers.
Britain’s railway is critical to the nation and rail companies are delivering a £50bn-plus Railway Upgrade Plan to improve services, says the report. Further changes are needed, though, to get the most out of this investment and to deliver the extra trains and improved service passengers expect and the country needs.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said:
“Ten years into delivering a plan of sustained improvements, the railway is more important to the country’s prosperity than ever. Billions continue to be spent to deliver the modern services the nation needs. Getting the most out of investment means adopting new technology and changing outdated working practices.
“A modern railway will mean more reliable, more comfortable and easier journeys for rail customers. It will create thousands of opportunities for people who work in the industry in new, more highly skilled roles. A railway that doesn’t change will see customers missing out on better services, it will be a drag on the economy and, in the long term, it puts the very future of the industry in doubt.”
Notes to editors
A copy of the Rail Delivery Group’s report ‘Our customers, our people: a railway for the digital age’ is available on this website.
After a period of extraordinary growth, our railway is at a crucial turning point. Starved of investment for much of the last century, it is 10 years into a sustained programme of improvement with even more to come. This is allowing the railway, the fastest growing in Europe, to play an ever more vital role at supporting our way of life and economic prosperity.
To respond to the challenge of a huge increase in rail journeys and people's expectations rising faster than the improvement in services, the railway must harness new technology and change the way we work. Other industries have been through these changes. Now it is the turn of rail, critically important to the future of our nation.
By exploiting technology and smarter working, we can make train travel more reliable, more accessible, more affordable and more comfortable, creating new jobs in the sector and enabling manufacturers to grow the British economy. If we do not move forward in this way, public and private investment will be harder to attract and these huge gains will be put at risk.
All of us in the railway and its supply chain are responsible for delivering a better railway. We look forward to every part of the sector working together to see through this change and improve the lives of customers and the nation, today and in the future.
Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive, Stagecoach Group
Mark Carne, Chief Executive, Network Rail
Paul Plummer, Chief Executive, Rail Delivery Group
Professor David Begg, Chief Executive, Transport Times
Dominic Booth, Managing Director, Abellio UK
Karen Boswell, Managing Director, Hitachi Rail Europe
David Brown, Chief Executive, The Go-Ahead Group
Malcolm Brown, CEO, Angel Trains
Chris Burchell, Managing Director: UK Trains, Arriva
Nick Crossfield, Managing Director, Alstom UK & Ireland
Dean Finch, Group Chief Executive, National Express
Paul Francis, Managing Director, Porterbrook
Alistair Gordon, CEO, Keolis UK
Sir David Higgins, Chairman, HS2 Ltd
Richard Hunter, UK Managing Director, Bombardier, Transportation
Mary Kenny, CEO, Eversholt Rail Group
Jeremy Long, CEO – European Business, MTR
Russell Mears, CEO, Freightliner Group Ltd
Tim O’Toole, Chief Executive, First Group
Neil Robertson, Chief Executive, The National Skills Academy for Rail
Steve Scrimshaw, Managing Director – Rail Systems, Siemens UK
Maggie Simpson, Executive Director, Rail Freight Group
John Smith, Managing Director, GB Railfreight
David Stretch, Managing Director of Transport, Serco
David Tonkin, Interim CEO, Railway Industry Association
Hans-Georg Werner, CEO DB Cargo UK
Phil Whittingham, Managing Director, Virgin Trains