RIA’s Autumn Budget submission calls for further rolling stock R&D funding
The submission states that no R&D funding for rolling stock “will significantly reduce the ability of suppliers to take high risk leading edge development”.
Within one of the ‘Key Budget Asks’, Railway Industry Association (RIA) has asked the government to increase funding for the R&D of rolling stock.
This follows Office of Road and Rail’s decision to reduce Network Rail’s request for £440 million in co-funding for R&D to £100 million, all of which is to be focused on infrastructure.
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the RIA, said: “The UK rail network runs as a system, meaning the continued development of both its infrastructure and rolling stock is vital in achieving journey time and passenger benefits, as well as in reducing the cost of running the network. In the next Control Period funding cycle, which starts in April 2019, infrastructure has funding for R&D yet rolling stock does not. If the rail industry is to innovate and meet the government’s challenges to decarbonise and digitalise the rail network, there really does need to be impactful funding for both.”
RIA’s key asks for the Autumn Budget are:
- Provide match-funding for rolling stock R&D in Control Period 6
- Commit to ending ‘boom and bust’ rail funding and ensure a visible pipeline of enhancements that provides confidence for rail suppliers
- Ensure electrification remains an option for decarbonising the rail network, subject to costs being reduced as per RIA’s Electrification Cost Challenge
- Ensure the Rail Review does not result in a stalling of investment in the rail network.
Caplan continued: “Rail suppliers are happy to provide match funding in R&D, as shown by the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) – a £92 million partnership between industry and academia. However, the lack of co-funding in CP6 will make it difficult for multinational companies to make the case for R&D in the UK, due to the high risks involved when they are often able to obtain match funding in other countries. So we urge the Government to provide match funding for rolling stock R&D urgently, before CP6 begins.
“RIA continues to campaign for an end to ‘boom and bust’ rail funding – which does so much damage for the rail industry, particularly SMEs whose survival is threatened and puts jobs and investment at risk – and for electrification to be a key option as the Government seeks to decarbonise the railway.
“We were pleased to see the Government’s recent response to the Transport Select Committee’s rail infrastructure investment inquiry, where in response to two recommendations on these issues, the government committed to work with RIA and the wider rail industry. We now need to get the key decision-makers round the table to smooth ‘boom and bust’ once and for all and seek to reduce the costs of electrification.”