Palace of Westminster clock tower

UK: Organisations from across the rail sector have responded to the outcome of the July 4 general election, which saw a landslide victory for the opposition Labour over the previous Conservative government. Labour’s policies include nationalisation of passenger train operating companies as the existing contracts with private sector operators expire.

Louise Haigh, re-elected Member of Parliament for Sheffield Heeley, was named Secretary of State for Transport in Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer’s cabinet on July 5, having held the shadow role in opposition.


Andy Bagnall, CEO of train operator owning group association Rail Partners, said ’the railway is facing severe challenges and train companies agree that urgent rail reform is needed. Getting this reform right is critical for the UK’s economic growth, sustainability and the public purse.

‘Rail Partners and its members hope to work with the new transport secretary and her wider ministerial team to ensure the railway is delivering for passengers and freight customers.’

Supply chain

Railway Industry Association Chief Executive Darren Caplan said ‘we urge the new government to deliver on our and our members’ five main RIA Manifesto asks: to publish a long-term rail strategy; bring about railway industry reform; accelerate new train orders and low carbon network upgrades; support a sustainable supply chain; and leverage private investment.’

Rail Forum CEO Elaine Clark said ‘we look forward to working with the new administration for the betterment of the industry and our supply chain.’

Harvey Weaver, infrastructure partner at law firm Ashurst, said ‘in its manifesto the new Labour government set out its objectives in relation to a number of energy and infrastructure initiatives, notably the establishment of Great British Energy and Great British Railways. As the new administration takes office, the market will be interested to see how quickly it delivers’.

Chief Executive Europe & India Colin Wood said ’AECOM and our peers across the sector are ready to help deliver the Labour Party’s pledge to implement a 10-year infrastructure strategy and establish the National Infrastructure & Service Transformation Authority. Both initiatives are welcome news for the sector and have the potential to provide the long-term stability, governance and crucially, the confidence in delivery needed to attract the private capital that is vital to financing many of these projects.’

Kate Jennings, CEO of the Association for Consultancy & Engineering said ‘our members have many of the answers to the big infrastructure, nature and climate resilience questions; by partnering with government, we aim to help cut through the myriads of demands and focus on the most important measures that will shape thriving and safe communities and deliver sustainable growth and prosperity for the future.’

David Pitt, Vice-President of UK Rail at SilverRail, called on the new government ‘to leverage the advanced technologies supplied by the private sector in helping to remove fragmentation and to make rail less complicated for passengers’.

He said Labour should ‘foster a strategic retail mindset’ under the Great British Railways brand, with ‘a co-ordinated retailing proposition’ including a GBR website, app, stations and smart kiosks and by enabling high street retailers to sell tickets.

Trade unions

Mick Whelan, General Secretary of train drivers’ union ASLEF, called for ‘a future that grows green integrated transport, rather than protecting the failed private interests of a quarter of a century of rail privatisation.’

He said ’we need a government that grows infrastructure and industry and builds a future for all after years of unnecessary strife’. The union looks forward ‘to early discussions on resolving the longest rail dispute in history’ and is ’looking to a future of opportunity not based on flawed dogma but on the needs of the country.’

TSSA General Secretary Maryam Eslamdoust said ‘Labour must rebuild a broken Britain and invest in our public services, our communities, and the people. Now is not the time for austerity and a further reduction in the standards of living. Now is the time to invest in our future.’