Philip Hoare, Chair of the Rail Supply Group (RSG) — the government backed leadership body representing all UK rail suppliers from Tier 1 to SME — tells Rail Business Daily that it is time to take the rail industry’s Pulse again. We asked him why.
Since the start of the pandemic the RSG has been quietly busy working overtime to drive forward industry-wide change and ultimately the long-term transformation which the sector desperately needs to restore and serve a modern, customer-focused railway.
Six months ago, the RSG was asked by Government to set up and lead the rail industry Covid-19 Taskforce. Quickly, the Taskforce commissioned market researchers Savanta ComRes to find out from UK rail businesses — their top priorities to survive these uncharted times. Now, it’s time to revisit rail suppliers and find out how the industry is coping and if their priorities have changed.
“RSG had a fantastic response to our last Pulse survey, it’s imperative that we take the industry’s pulse again so that we can drive forward a clear industry-wide agenda with Government. I am urging all suppliers to get involved —today,” said Philip Hoare.
In July, the supplier industry were unanimous, and three priority actions were identified. Firstly, improve work pipeline visibility; secondly, simplify data access; and thirdly change railway access arrangements.
“The RSG got to work immediately on these three priorities. We completed two ‘pipeline visibility’ pilots with the Network Rail Transpire and REAL Alliances, working closely with BAM Nuttal, VolkerRail and their suppliers. We are now working with HS2, TfL, Nexus, Porterbrook and Stadler Rail to do just the same”, explained Philip Hoare.
By Spring 2021, the aim is to develop an industry Transparency Charter and then link this with supplier engagement, assessment and eventually contractual requirements.
RSG are also pushing forward the development of an ‘open data marketplace’ which can be used to bring improvements to customer journeys and freight. The work is currently focused on the legal and commercial framework required to make this happen,— opening up data access is essential to help restore ridership and revenue in a post-Covid-19 environment.
On changing railway access arrangements, the RSG is working with Network Rail in their Southern Region and North West and Central Region to understand how possessions could become more productive. “We are looking closely at the way the industry goes about planning access, giving access as well as delivering works and handing back. I am delighted that together with Network Rail, we are now exploring ways of doing things differently which requires everyone in the industry to be open and willing to change age old practices.”