Press release 26th November 2020

2020 Spending Review – a missed opportunity for rail

Rail campaigners have described the government’s spending review as “Lacking in ideas as much as lacking in content”. Chris Page, chair of Railfuture, said: “We responded to the government’s plans back in September, so we were hoping to see some positive outcomes in three areas that we identified, but we’re a little disappointed”

“Firstly, does the announcement protect the railway for when things recover? £2bn for to support rail services in the next financial year isn’t much – if passenger numbers don’t recover quickly then services and jobs or pay will have to be cut. To avoid that the DfT will have to take action to encourage passengers back, by offering fares which people feel are fair, enabling them to work from home part-time whilst encouraging them to commute more frequently.

“Secondly, does the announcement provide funding for a rolling programme of electrification? A missed opportunity here – no mention of electrification, which with modal shift is the best way to decarbonise transport. The Treasury must accept that Network Rail can deliver electrification cost-effectively. The effect of delay is that Network Rail would lose the learning that it has gained so expensively on GW and MML electrification of what works and what doesn't - electrification teams are being disbanded because their projects are being completed. Ironically Government inaction would cause the excessive cost of electrification which it fears, as mistakes are repeated because the learning has been lost.

“And third, does the announcement support economic recovery, social mobility, levelling up, carbon reductions etc? Another missed opportunity – most of the rail investment mentioned is not new. The opportunity of station upgrades from the levelling up fund, the funding for the Tees Valley Hydrogen Transport Hub and the results of Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund round 2 and New Stations round 3 are welcome. However to make a big difference to economic recovery, social mobility or carbon reduction we need to accelerate existing rail proposals such as the TransPennine route upgrade, reliability improvements around Manchester and Midland Main Line electrification.”

Notes to editors:

Railfuture is the UK's leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services for both passengers and freight.

Railfuture’s response to the CSR at https://www.railfuture.org.uk/article1867-Spending-Review-2020

Railfuture's website can be found at: www.railfuture.org.uk

Follow Railfuture on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Railfuture

For further information and comment please contact:

Bruce Williamson, media spokesman
Tel: 0117 927 2954 Mobile: 07759 557389
media at railfuture.org.uk