Integrated Rail Plan: strong governance critical to successful delivery
The announcement on the UK’s Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) details the government’s future intentions for the rail network. Launched today, it provides a coordinated approach to investment with the ambition to ‘level up’ the economy of the UK.
Managing Director for UK Infrastructure David Whysall said that an understanding of local industry skills and capacity, together with proper oversight of the newly announced projects, would be critical to the success of the Integrated Rail Plan.
“This is not the plan that some expected or hoped for and there will be justified disappointment, particularly in terms of much needed east to west connectivity in the north, with longstanding and high-profile projects being pushed aside.
However, there are silver linings too. This is a £96bn plan for rail which in following advice from the National Infrastructure Commission moves away from the piecemeal planning of the past.
"For the first time, we have a coordinated approach to investment, that follows the announcement earlier this year on the formation of Great British Railways. The plan now needs supporting with a governance model that allows projects to be formed and delivered without the political interference that too often delays investment and impacts getting projects set up for success. Benefits need to be delivered quickly if the plan is to realign and transition the UK to a low carbon economy.
The Government now needs to convince the communities of the north and midlands that it is the right plan. Exceptional delivery requires investment in skills, technology, project leadership and supply chain resilience so that these schemes offer an opportunity to build long-term expertise in rail, rather than competing for capacity.
“The success of the IRP will only be realised with the kind of strong governance that we have called for in our report with the CBI this week. Programmes with purpose: delivering success in government’s major projects makes the case for a greater oversight role for the Infrastructure and Projects Authority as part of steps to shape a globally-leading ‘industry’ for major projects. The IRP has potential to play a leading role in that industry – addressing the twin challenges of regional inequality and net zero at home, while also creating a platform to export expertise abroad.”