Rail Supply Group provides update on UK COVID-19 recovery ‘Act Now’ priorities
Significant progress has been made in delivering the three ‘Act Now’ priorities since their original publication in July 2020.
The Rail Supply Group (RSG) – the leadership body for the UK rail supply chain – has provided an update on its three ‘Act Now’ priorities, which will support the rail supply chain’s COVID-19 recovery.
In July 2020, having been invited by the UK government to form a Coronavirus Taskforce, the RSG published its Act Now report following a comprehensive independent survey into the impact of coronavirus on businesses supplying the rail industry.
Three priorities were identified – which will also see elements of the Rail Sector Deal being adapted and accelerated in response to these industry needs – with significant progress being made over the last four months:
1. Improve work pipeline visibility
Two pilot studies involving the Network Rail Transpire and REAL Alliances, including BAM Nuttal and VolkerRail, looking at work pipeline visibility on in-flight projects have been completed. Further pilots are underway with HS2, Nexus, Transport for London (TfL), Porterbrook and Stadler Rail.
Through open and collaborative conversations about expenditure profiles on projects across the supply chain, RSG has established that expenditure forecast information is readily available to share, often at nil cost, and that the associated commercial issues around sharing and uncertainty can be easily managed.
A further nine pilots will be completed by the end of 2020. Developments associated with a supplier work pipeline transparency charter and links to supplier assessments and contractual requirements will be explored in the first quarter of 2021.
2. Simplify data access
RSG has accelerated its work to provide ‘Open Data’ that can be used to bring improvements to customer journeys and freight to increase economic prosperity to ‘Build Back Better’.
A four-stage process is being undertaken to obtain industry-wide agreement on how data access can be opened up from a legal and commercial perspective to enable the development of a data marketplace.
The four-stage process will be completed in December 2020. Focus will then shift to developing a digital marketplace which will enable the seamless sharing of data and help facilitate the introduction of products to restore passenger ridership and revenues through service and experience improvements and increased freight capacity.
3. Change railway access arrangements
An access review to explore boosting productivity has been completed to gain insight from 11 of the industry’s previous studies.
Recurring themes, problem statements and lessons learnt around possessions and access have helped inform a number of priorities that will be piloted on the ground, by working in collaboration with Network Rail in the Southern, North West and Central Areas.
Chair of the Rail Supply Group and President of Atkins, Philip Hoare, said: “The progress to date demonstrates the value of collaboration as we work together to chart the rail industry’s recovery and longer-term transformation. It’s clear that greater transparency increases productivity and trust, especially in a supply chain which is large, diverse and in need of support during these challenging times. We now look forward to progressing each of the ‘Act Now’ priorities as part of the Rail Sector Deal, which aims to drive productivity and build on data to deliver an improved customer experience for both operators and passengers.”
Nadhim Zahawi, the UK’s Business and Industry Minister, said: “I’m delighted to see the tangible progress the Rail Supply Group has made as it drives forward its work to fuel economic recovery in the sector. Today’s updated report highlights the importance of everyone in the rail sector working together, boosting productivity through close collaboration, as it builds back better from the coronavirus pandemic.”
The UK Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “As we build back better from COVID-19, these Act Now priorities will be key to ensuring that the rail supply chain can get back on its feet. The work of the Rail Supply Group to lay out the key priorities for the industry helps establish a clear pathway to future success. Working together across the sector means that the rail supply chain is more robust and can remain a vital pillar in the UK’s infrastructure.”
The three Act Now priorities will continue to move forward and develop plans to make industry-wide change at pace. Given that circumstances continue to change, a ‘pulse survey’ is also being launched to gather the latest industry views to ensure that the taskforce continue to focus on what is needed most.