Rail is vital to the country’s prosperity connecting workers to job, businesses to markets and people to their families and friends. To those outside the industry the landscape often appears complex and baffling with numerous companies working together to provide the passenger and freight services on which we rely.
Responsibility for managing, enhancing and maintaining the infrastructure lies predominantly with Network Rail; this includes fixed assets such as track, signalling equipment and electrical and telecoms equipment. Passenger services are provided by train operating companies, these are normally private companies who bid to operate specific routes under fixed term franchise agreements. Freight operating companies focus on carrying goods rather than people including aggregates from our quarries and container goods from and to our ports.
The industry is served by a huge number of private sector consultancies, contractors, manufacturers and service providers with a growing number of digital companies active in the sector: from data management for enhancing asset life to providing better information for passengers. A number of rolling stock manufacturers are active in the UK, there are three manufacturing/assembly plants with plans for additional facilities in other locations.
The industry is highly regulated to maintain very high safety standards and it continues to benefit from significant government investment. Initial work to prepare the way for the planned high speed line, HS2, initially connecting Birmingham to London is underway and this £50bn+ project will continue into the 2030s.