Rail Industry Association chief executive Darren Caplan has called for an end to the “stop and start funding of Network Rail control periods” to create greater certainty and improve investment in skills, equipment and innovation.
Caplan made the plea as part of an open letter to National Infrastructure Commission chairman Lord Adonis in response to his claim that the construction makes “indefensible margins”.
According to Caplan, many in the rail sector are making a loss rather than having any margin. “In any case, reduced margins simply mean less money available to invest in innovation – a top priority of both the government and presumably the National Infrastructure Commission – and less available resources to spend on the many SMEs further down the supply chain,” he said. “It doesn’t really benefit anyone to criticise the sector in this way.”
Caplan says that moving to a regularly reviewed rolling five-year programme would stop this “feast and famine approach to funding”. He said: “The supply chain can work far more efficiently [this way]. We would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the National Infrastructure Commission to see how the National Infrastructure Pipeline can be used to help smooth this profile through the use of annual reviews.”