Press Release

Rail industry responds to 'piecemeal' Integrated Rail Plan

18 November 2021

The Railway Industry Association (RIA), the national trade body representing over 300 rail companies, has responded to the Integrated Rail Plan for the North & Midlands published today.

On the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan, Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “The railway industry will welcome the end of the uncertainty surrounding the Integrated Rail Plan, now it’s been published. Many of them have been preparing over the last few years to deliver the projects contained within it, and whether individual schemes have been scrapped, amended or given the green light, at least we all now know the Government’s thinking.

"It is positive to see confirmation of some local and regional rail projects within the Plan - throughout the North and Midlands - and the speed at which the Government aims to deliver them. Many rail businesses will look forward to working on these. However, it is difficult to see this IRP as anything other than a piecemeal approach to national strategic railway infrastructure development, given the abandonment of HS2 Eastern Leg and the scaling back of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“We must of course all recognise the short to medium term impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the UK and its economy, and welcome the fact that the Government will invest significant sums in rail around the country. Yet it was only last year that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Cabinet publicly supported delivering the HS2 scheme in full, given the capacity, connectivity and economic benefits it brings. Even if the Government claims in the IRP it can deliver benefits more quickly with upgrades to the current network, how certain can the railway industry be that the IRP will actually be delivered, given what’s happened to the previous plan? Whatever schemes do proceed, RIA and rail businesses will of course work with the Government to take them forward."

  • On Northern Powerhouse Rail, Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “It is worrying that this scheme has been scaled back. Northern Powerhouse Rail will be essential in connecting up towns and cities in the North of England, alongside delivery of the Transpennine Route Upgrade. This project has been promised time and time again since 2014, with millions of pounds spent on its design and shovels ready to go. These plans being torn up will only add yet more costs and delay work.”
  • On Midland Mainline and TransPennine Route electrification, Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “It is positive to see new electrification going ahead after a number of projects were halted in 2017. Electrifying the rail network is not only good for passengers and freight, providing more reliable and faster services to diesel trains, but it also essential to decarbonising the network by 2050. With only 38% of our rail network electrified – far below other developed countries – we clearly need to get on with electrifying more track and ending the hiatus in work that has negatively impacted the industry
    "It's positive to hear the Transport Secretary today suggest that work will begin on the Midland Mainline electrification soon. Let’s hope this is the beginning of the sustainable pipeline of electrification Government has promised.”

Justin Moss, RIA North Group Chair, also commented
: “The Integrated Rail Plan published today gives certainty on much needed schemes like the upgrading of the Transpennine route and a high speed line between Manchester and Yorkshire, both of which will improve rail services in the region.

“Yet, it is disappointing that the IRP does not include HS2’s Eastern Leg to Yorkshire and cuts back the Northern Powerhouse Rail project, both of which are vital to boosting north-south and east-west connectivity for the North of England. Together, these schemes could truly transform connectivity and capacity in the North, as well as supporting the many businesses involved in building them across the UK.

“RIA North and our members want to see the Government get on and deliver this plan as a minimum, so the supply chain can invest in the skills and capability we will need for the decades to come. We will continue working with the Government, Transport for the North and HS2 Ltd to support a clean, reliable railway for passengers in the North and across the UK.”

Notes to Editors


  1. The Integrated Rail Plan can be found here

  2. Over 60 rail businesses signed a letter in September calling for HS2 to be delivered in full, and particularly the Eastern Leg, including multi-national companies like Alstom and Mace. Read the letter here

  3. A survey in May showed 80% of rail SMEs anticipate significant falls in revenue and almost half would cut staff, if HS2 is not delivered in full.  Read the survey here

  4. RIA's Rail Decarbonisation 21 campaign is calling for a rolling programme of electrification and fleet orders of battery and hydrogen trains in order to decarbonise the rail network by 2050. Read more here

  5. RIA's Electrification Cost Challenge report shows how electrification schemes can be delivered at up to half the cost of past problem projects, particularly the Great Western Electrification Programme. Read more here.

  6. About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. RIA has 300+ companies in membership in a sector that contributes £43 billion in economic growth and £14 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 710,000 people. It is also a vital industry for the UK’s economic recovery, supporting green investment and jobs in towns and communities across the UK; for every £1 spent in rail, £2.50 is generated in the wider economy. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number).

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