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Law firm reports on UK Government long term needs for UK Rail Industry

submitted by Law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner:  www.blplaw.com



The British rail industry has urged the Government to develop a comprehensive and forward-looking plan for the UK rail network in order to make it fit for purpose, according to a new cross-industry report published today by leading City law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP).

The report, entitled “UK rail: the next chapter”, is the product of in-depth interviews with operators, investors, contractors and banks in the rail sector.  It reveals that the industry is frustrated with the Government’s short term policy horizons for rail, which stifle investment and project delivery.


The report challenges the Government to implement a series of recommendations to enhance rail capacity and support economic growth, including:


·         Commit to a broad, long term strategy - this should tackle existing capacity challenges and map out the development of the network for the next 25 years.


·         Provide greater leadership - the absence of clear and strong leadership in the sector is a significant barrier to progress. If this is to come from the Rail Delivery Group, the Government must give the body greater authority to drive action.


·         Reduce the excessive ‘lag’ between submitting proposals for new infrastructure and project delivery - a streamlined national planning process which recognises the importance of rail infrastructure development is essential.


One of the central themes highlighted in the report is the current lack of clarity around investment opportunities for the private sector.  This has the effect of restricting the level of capital flow required to deliver necessary upgrading and maintenance work.  The report calls on the Government to create a climate for private sector investment in UK rail and to identify those capital assets on the network which are suitable for private investment.


Russell Clifford, Head of Asset Finance at BLP said: “It is time to change the course of UK rail and for the Government to commit to a long term planning agenda that looks beyond electoral terms or manifestos. The National Infrastructure Plan is a good start, but much more detail is needed if rail is to support economic growth in the UK.

“It is estimated that rail passenger numbers will increase by 50% by 2030. Significant investment is needed if our network is to cope with this pressure. The Government’s focus must be to attract investment by reviewing and mitigating those areas that previously discouraged private companies from investing in this sector.

“The message is clear: our rail network is essential infrastructure, providing the veins through which the UK’s lifeblood flows. Ensuring that it moves fast and freely will help the economic health of UK PLC.”


Adding to the call for a broader strategy around development in the sector, Dr Nigel Harris, Managing Director of the Railway Consultancy said: “We need to persuade politicians it would be better to undertake a £5m scheme every week, rather than a £200m scheme every year.”

BLP’s report also suggests that regional devolution of Network Rail’s responsibilities will present a fresh route into rail work for the private sector.

Michael Roberts, CEO of the Association of Train Operating Companies, who contributed to the report, said: “The main challenges to delivering UK rail infrastructure are leadership, money and culture.”


The full report is available for download at www.blplaw.com



About the authors of this report:-

Berwin Leighton Paisner

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) is an international, full service law firm with over 800 lawyers, including 214 partners. BLP has offices in London, Abu Dhabi, Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Moscow, Paris and Singapore. We also have flexible and pro-actively managed relationships with more than 100 leading preferred firms in over 65 countries around the world. With 80% of our top 20 clients in 2001 still instructing the firm today, BLP works with clients including FTSE 100 companies and finncial institutions, major multinationals, the public sector, entrepreneurial private businesses and individuals. BLP was named UK Law Firm of the Year 2010 by The Lawyer and Legal Week, we are the only law firm to have won both awards in the same year, and the only firm to have won The Lawyer award twice. Also, in 2010 BLP’s Managed Legal Service initiative won the Financial Times’ Client Service Innovation Award and Legal Business named Moscow based Goltsblat BLP International Office of the Year.


For more information:

Website: www.blplaw.com

Twitter: BLPLaw


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