Earlier this year, the Rail Supply Group (RSG), as the leadership body for the UK rail supply sector, established a Coronavirus (Covid-19) Taskforce to understand the impact of the crisis on businesses supplying to the rail industry and put plans to support their recovery and growth.
Following completion of an extensive industry-wide supplier survey, which attracted 442 responses, the Rail Supply Group Coronavirus Taskforce and its Industry Champions completed a review of the original Rail Sector Deal.
The review identified three priority ‘Act Now’ initiatives and revised existing Rail Sector Deal plans to meet the immediate needs of the industry.
The three Act Now priorities were:
- Improve work pipeline visibility across the whole supply chain that allows organisations to plan and deliver with confidence, driving improvements in productivity and outcomes;
- Simplify data access by accelerating our work to provide ‘Open Data’ that can be used to bring improvements to customer journeys and freight to increase economic prosperity and Build Back Better;
- Change railway access arrangements by working in partnership to help increase productivity and strengthen the rail industry’s recovery.
RSG chairman Philip Hoare recently reviewed the situation as part of the ‘Act Now Update Report’. “Over the last few months,” he said, “we have been working closely on our ‘Act Now’ initiatives to provide greater work pipeline visibility and improve cashflow; simplify access to rail industry data; and improve productivity by changing the way we access and work on the railway.
“Our work to date also shows that all suppliers can act now help the industry. In the area of work pipeline visibility our pilot studies demonstrate that greater visibility of expenditure for in-flight projects throughout the supply chain has wide-ranging benefits. Greater transparency increases both productivity and trust – and the cost of providing greater certainty is minimal.
“Our work on data sharing shows that a data marketplace for rail industry data is not too far away – this will play a critical role in bringing passengers back to the railway for the benefit of the whole industry.
“We have also taken on the challenge of increasing productivity when accessing the railway. Our review of previous work has highlighted there are some specific areas of focus that may lead to productivity improvements – we are working closely with Network Rail.
“The Rail Supply Group remains fully committed, not just to the recovery of the industry, but to strengthening the capability within the industry to seize the opportunities from the government programme to ‘Build Back Better’.”
Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, commented on the RSG report: “We welcome the Rail Supply Group’s update on progress and ongoing work of the three ‘Act Now’ priorities to help the rail sector recover from the Coronavirus pandemic.
“These priorities – improving work pipeline visibility, simplifying data access and changing railway access arrangements – are all critical for RIA members in the supply chain, and will help increase productivity and drive change in our industry. Working collaboratively and innovatively in these areas will enable the UK rail sector to plan for the future and help lead the UK’s economic recovery, following what has been a difficult year for many.”