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Thursday, July 25, 2024

UK jobs are at risk without new rolling stock orders says RIA

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A new report from the Railway Industry Association (RIA) shows that unless action is taken now on rolling stock orders for upgrade or replacement of the oldest trains on the network, thousands of jobs will be at risk across the railway industry.

The report, entitled “The UK Rolling Stock Industry – making 2023 the year of opportunity not crisis”, sets out how there are currently no orders for new or upgraded rolling stock in the UK, with the current orders set to end by 2026.

The UK currently has the facilities ready to deliver modern trains with cleaner technologies including electric, battery, hydrogen, and bi-mode, says RIA, but in less than 12 months, major factories will start to run out of work. The UK will not be able to upgrade or renew trains if the factories and skilled workers are no longer there. This is a major strategic industry employing over 30,000 people and contributing at least £1.8 billion to the economy.

This week, the Government has made a strategic investment in a new battery ‘gigafactory’ in Bridgewater, Somerset, creating 9,000 jobs. RIA has welcomed this commitment to low carbon transport, but has stresses that support also needs to be extended to the rail supply chain to support existing jobs and clean up ageing, polluting trains.

RIA has called on the Government to make decisions, without which there are serious potential consequences, including the loss of thousands of jobs, worsening passenger experience due to ageing trains not being replaced, increased costs in the long-run and limited deployment of new, green technologies. To avert these damaging consequences, the report is urging orders to replace or upgrade the oldest rolling stock be placed immediately.

Commenting, RIA Technical Director David Clarke said: “With the last mainline order being over three years ago and no visibility of new orders for upgrading or renewing rolling stock in the UK, we are once again facing the prospect of job losses and factory closures.

“These closures would have a deeply damaging impact, with jobs, passenger satisfaction, value for money and the drive to decarbonise all undermined by the upcoming trough in the ‘boom-and-bust’ funding cycle.

“This RIA report is clear that rolling stock orders are required now. These should be ‘no-regrets’ decisions for Government as they wouldn’t require upfront taxpayer investment but would result in a broad range of benefits, from retaining jobs to immediate carbon and air quality improvement and a better experience for passengers”.

The full report can be downloaded here.

Image credit: RIA

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