The Royal Academy of Engineering, which promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country, welcomed the Government’s decision to publish a long term plan for the railways, but expressed concern about the intention to increase rail fares above the rate of inflation and the failure to commit to increased electrification of the railways.

Anthony May, OBE FREng, Research Professor of Transport Engineering at the University of Leeds, said:

“The Royal Academy of Engineering supports the Government’s decision to publish a 30 year plan for the railways. We advocated a long term approach for all aspects of transport planning in our report Transport 2050.

“We also back the Government’s focus on investment to relieve bottlenecks and to reduce overcrowding. As we said in our report, it makes sense to make improvements to the existing network rather than developing wholly new lines.

“However, we are concerned about the expectation that rail fares will continue to rise faster than the rate of inflation, while the costs of car use will continue to fall in real terms. We need to develop a system of true cost charging for all types of transport, whereby each user pays the costs which his or her journey generates. If true cost charging is to be effective it should be applied to car use as well. This in turn could provide an additional source of finance for rail investment.”

Professor Roger Kemp FREng, Head of Engineering at Lancaster University, said:

“The Royal Academy of Engineering is also disappointed that the Government has not committed to further electrification of the railways. This is crucial for achieving the targets for reducing CO2 emissions set by the Government.”

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
  2. The Academy published its review of UK transport policy: Transport Policy: 2050 in 2005.

For more information please contact

Richard Wilson at The Royal Academy of Engineering