Foreword: Collaboration in electrification
3 December 2014 • Author(s): Jeremy Candfield, Director General, RIA
Since privatisation of British Rail in the 1990s, one of the strengths of the UK railway industry has been the active involvement of a wide range of private sector companies, bringing technologies and skills from other sectors as well as adding the commercial and competitive disciplines of the private sector, writes Jeremy Candfield – Director General of the Railway Industry Association (RIA). But the commercial and technical drivers alone cannot produce the improved efficiencies that must be found to deliver the railways of tomorrow. That requires a greater level of collaboration across the supply chain and considerable advances are being made in reaching this aim. A leading example of the closer working relationships can be seen in the way that the UK rail industry has pulled together to develop the National Electrification Programmes.
After the completion of the East Coast Main Line electrification there was little new UK electrification for over 15 years, with electric trains operating on only around 40% of the network. Nor was there any political appetite for new electrification. As late as 2007 UK government policy expressly ruled-out ‘all-or-nothing’ projects, such as networkwide electrification or a high-speed line. The industry needed to find a way of demonstrating how to achieve the benefits of electrified railways: lighter vehicles with lower whole-life cost; better acceleration and enhanced capacity; zero emissions at the point of use and reduced reliance on hydrocarbons.