Huge cost savings could be made when Britain buys its next generations of trains if the industry works together to design and procure them, according to Network Rail’s draft Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) on passenger rolling stock.

The report, which draws on months of work involving key players, asserts that reducing the number of train types and phasing orders over time could potentially save hundreds of millions of pounds. This approach reflects recommendations made by the government’s recent Rail value for money study, chaired by Sir Roy McNulty.

Passenger rolling stock costs currently reach £1.8 billion per year – 15% of the railway’s annual running cost. There are now 12,000 vehicles on the network in 64 different classes. 5,000 new vehicles have been introduced since 1996, each costing an average of £1.1 million.

The draft RUS recommends the industry should exploit economies of scale in procurement wherever feasible and consider the infrastructure works needed to allow rolling stock to be interoperable within the market sector it serves. It claims that 20% of procurement costs could have been saved between 1988 and 2010 if there had been continuity of orders.

The deadline for consultation responses is 1st August.