Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling praised the rail industry at a parliamentary reception organised by the Railway Industry Association (RIA), describing it as great success story.

During the reception on the 24th of October, he mentioned the Ordsall Chord, Liverpool Lime Street enhancement and the Waterloo blockade as examples of particularly successful projects.

Nevertheless, he was concerned that poor customer satisfaction on an overcrowded railway could allow a negative narrative to build up which could threaten investment and so stressed that everyone has a part to play to sell the railway success story.

He was pleased to note that the next control period settlement (CP6) has been welcomed and advised that his department was working hard to avoid any hiatus from the current CP5 shortfall.

He stressed that during CP6 the focus would be on renewals to ensure reliability of the network, with a new funding process for major upgrades. He advised that the settlement money would not necessarily all go to Network Rail as the Government was open to ideas from industry on alternative ways of delivering projects as mentioned in the Hansford Review. The key was to deliver more for less with less disruption.

Referring to his recent electrification announcement, he advised that he had to take difficult decisions and, for example, couldn’t justify spending £500 million for electrification between Cardiff and Swansea for electric trains that would run at the same speed as diesel trains.

Introducing the reception, Darren Caplan, RIA’s CEO referred to the need for Government to support the Rail Supply Group’s sector strategy. Referring to Brexit, he noted its challenges, such as labour supply and standards, and opportunities.

On the subject of electrification, he asked that the issue be kept open as it can be the most cost-effective solution. In this respect, he mentioned RIA’s electrification cost challenge which was working on how to reduce electrification costs.

Written by David Shirres, Rail Engineer editor