Steves Blog

Final determination and the next generation of professionals

28 February 2014

Building on last months Blog re the UK’s National Infrastructure Plan (NIP), my focus this month is on Network Rail (NwR) - a major contributor to the NIP.

The next major investment cycle for NwR commences on 1 April 2014 and runs for five years through to 31 March 2019 - known as Control Period 5 (CP5). CP5 is a culmination of 2-3 years of consultation, analysis and negotiation between NwR and the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), the body that holds NwR to account for delivering its promises. Over the next 5 years NwR will invest in excess of £38bn on maintaining, renewing and improving the rail network, including enhancing safety, increasing capacity, modernising stations across the country and the electrification of lines bringing them into the 21 Century and accommodating demand forecasts. It is also worth noting that NwR has committed to reduce the costs of running the railway by 20%, while delivering 9 of 10 trains on time.

This investment plan represents a 58% uplift to the £24Bn invested in CP4, so there will need to be a sea change in terms of resources, contracts and people to deliver this significant increase in investment over the next five years. This upturn in investment begs an important question – where will the people come from to deliver this work? The work in the rail sector is at unprecedented levels and is set to continue at this rate for the next decade. Crossrail is 50% complete with a scheduled completion in 2018, High Speed 2 is progressing with the prospect of works commencing at both ends of the route, and we are at the beginning of an intense programme of TOC bidding for the long term franchise agreements.

This level of activity and investment in Britain’s railways brings with it exciting opportunities for professionals in this sector, but will also highlight the scarcity of certain resources, resulting in high calibre people becoming a sought after commodity in the coming months. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills has reiterated this point recently by saying that "skills shortage vacancies" across the economy had returned to 2007 levels, which heightens the need for our industry to bring on the next generation of professionals more than ever.

This is why CPC is a platinum sponsor of Young Rail Professionals. We take great pride in supporting the YRP and playing an active part in developing the talent and coaching the leaders of the future.

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