This month has seen further pointers to the positive long-term prospects for suppliers serving the UK’s rail market. In his Autumn Statement on 23 November, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond announced additional funding over and above expenditure already provided in the current Network Rail Control Period 5.
The government is to provide £450 million to trial digital signalling technology aimed at increasing capacity and reliability. There was also a commitment to bring forward £100 million to accelerate construction of the western section of East West Rail, which is intended eventually to improve connectivity between the high-tech centres of Oxford and Cambridge. And £80 million is to be allocated to accelerate the rollout of smart ticketing including season tickets for commuters in the UK’s major cities.
Earlier in the month Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling set out the government’s preferred route for Phase Two of HS2 from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds. A Hybrid Bill for the first section of this phase to Crewe, providing links via existing lines to northwest England and Scotland, should be presented to Parliament next year. Meanwhile, initial enabling works contracts totalling £900 million for Phase One of the high-speed scheme have recently been awarded to three civil engineering consortia.
This is all good news for companies in the rail supply chain as they prepare to take part in Railtex 2017 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham from 9 to 11 May next year. The number of exhibitors has now risen to 270, with three-quarters of available stand space already selected by companies keen to guarantee their presence.
This will be the thirteenth in a highly successful run of Railtex events and it again promises to provide an unrivalled showcase both for companies targeting the busy UK market and for domestic firms seeking overseas business.
Exhibition Manager, Kirsten Whitehouse says: “The government is making it very clear that investments in the UK’s infrastructure, including improvements to the rail network, are essential to support economic growth. These latest plans join a list of many other big Network Rail and Transport for London projects in the pipeline. For the industry’s suppliers Railtex offers a great opportunity for their products and services to be introduced to thousands of buyers from the UK and around the world. More than 7,400 engineers, managers and buyers visited the last Railtex in 2015, including nearly ten per cent from overseas. We are now working hard to ensure an equally successful attendance at next year’s show.”