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Clyde & Co rail industry seminar

  • Press Releases 11 April 2011 11 April 2011

Leading experts agree that politics and cost are two of the biggest concerns facing the rail industry today.

With Sir Roy McNulty due to deliver his final Rail Value for Money report, experts from across the industry attended a rail seminar in London hosted by international law firm Clyde & Co.

Clyde & Co infrastructure partner Nigel Taylor, who chaired the event with fellow partner Robert Meakin, said: "The UK rail industry is about to embark on some of the most significant structural changes since privatisation."

Guests heard from a select panel of speakers including Chris Bolt, a former Chairman of the Office of Rail Regulation and the PPP Arbiter, Network Rail programme director Ian Ballentine, Tim Fitch of VINCI Construction UK, Atkins director Ben Harding, Chiltern Railways' strategy adviser Chris Kinchin-Smith, rail industry consultant Chris Stokes and HSBC director Trevor Sturmy.

During the seminar, audience members listed political interference, cost and value for money, structural complexity and a short term approach as some of the key issues facing the industry.

Chris Bolt of the PPP Arbiter, said: "The issues faced by the industry today are not new. It is fair to say there hasn't been any real progress or any experimentation since the Future of Rail White Paper in 2004 where many of the issues are the same as those faced today. Something needs to happen if the rail industry is going to strengthen and develop."

Panellists and guests discussed the possible solutions for the industry, with most agreeing that there was a need to set clear objectives for the planning and development of infrastructure projects as well as a trial of vertical integration in specific franchises.

Chris Kinchin-Smith, strategy advisor of Chiltern Railways stressed the benefits of longer term franchises, and put the success of Chiltern Railways partly down to a stable leadership over the past 18 years. Although he said there was not a "one size fits all" solution.

Chris Stokes, rail industry consultant added: "Delivering the best value for tax payers is key. What the industry needs to do is drive savings, drive efficiency and drive better relationships
between operators."