UK: The Rail Supply Group’s Coronavirus Taskforce has published its report setting out actions needed to support the recovery of the supply chain from the effects of the pandemic.

Having been tasked by the government with drawing up a recovery plan for the rail sector, RSG commissioned an independent survey and stakeholder interviews from Savanta ComRes to help it understand the industry’s outlook and actions needed. This identified an anticipated lack of demand and cash flow as being significant barriers for recovery.

‘While our report shows that many businesses are confident about survival, it is evident that we need to recover quickly to prevent wider impacts on cash flow, people, passengers, freight, skills and jobs’, said Philip Hoare, Chair of the Rail Supply Group and President of Atkins. ‘Put simply, longer-term resilience requires swift, decisive action.’

The taskforce said the three ‘Act Now’ priorities are to:

  • improve work pipeline visibility and cashflow across the whole supply chain to allow organisations to plan and deliver with confidence;
  • simplify data access to allow better decision making and new services to be developed including improved customer information;
  • change railway access arrangements to maximise the time available and boost productivity

RSG said it would work with industry partners to complete expenditure analysis at contract level throughout the supply chain, and highlight opportunities to accelerate work where it can be done productively.

It will also accelerate existing work by the Rail Data Council to simplify data access to allow better decision making in the short, medium and long term, and would work with industry partners to explore whether railway access arrangements can be extended or enhanced for a large number of planned smaller projects to increase productivity.

Nadhim Zahawi, Minister for Business & Industry at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, said RSG had reacted quickly and identified clear priorities. The government would now ‘work with industry to adapt the Rail Sector Deal, so that our supply chains can have a bright future and achieve the best possible recovery’.