Palace of Westminster (Photo Steve Bidmead, Pixabay)

UK: Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh has announced a review of rail infrastructure delivery which is to be led by Jürgen Maier, Chair of the Digital Catapult, Vice-Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and former Siemens UK CEO.

The review has been asked to make recommendations to the Labour party leadership on how the delivery of rail infrastructure could be managed ‘better, faster and more cost effectively’.

It will look at:

  • changes which could be made to the planning system;
  • hurdles in planning, legislation or policy that hinder infrastructure delivery and different consenting strategies;
  • clarity and certainty of policy and the reliability and consistency of funding and the infrastructure pipeline;
  • the capacity of public bodies to effectively partner, procure and deliver infrastructure and provide value for money, learning from international examples;
  • how to aid more efficient and resilient local supply chains;
  • the role of devolution and the benefits of developing sustainable partnerships;
  • opportunities to unlock growth around major projects
  • alternative models to fund stations including the use of development corporations, leveraging investment and co-location of other infrastructure.

Haigh said Labour would draw from the ‘brightest and best from around the world’ to learn lessons and share expertise.

Review panel members will include urban transport industry expert Bob Morris, former HS2 and Atkins Chairman Allan Cook, who is currently Chair of the Materials Innovation Leadership Group for the Henry Royce Institute, Nicola Smith, Head of Economics at the Trades Union Congress, Emma Porter, Managing Director of Story Plant Ltd, Henri Murison, Chief Executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, and transport adviser Laurent Troger, a former CEO of Bombardier Transportation.

‘We do not accept the managed decline of our railways and our vital infrastructure’, said Haigh when announcing the review on December 14. ‘The country that gave the world the railways should still be leading the world.’

Maier added that ‘poor quality rail infrastructure is holding Britain back, hampering productivity, and deterring business investment. To turbocharge growth, quality infrastructure is not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have in this fast-moving new industrial age.

‘That’s why I welcome Labour’s focus on learning lessons from the last decade, and I am delighted to lead this review. The more all political parties focus on the practical solutions needed, the better for the country.’