UK rail supply chain – Enhancements and future

August 01, 2019

RSK has again featured in Rail Professional magazine, this time on the topic of the UK rail supply chain. Environment, health and safety associate director Sid Grover published his second article for the magazine, UK rail supply chain – enhancements and future, in the July issue alongside colleague Kim Olliver’s article, Sustainability at the heart of rail enhancement. It follows Sid’s first piece, The light rail revolution in the Midlands, which was published in the June edition.

“Rail is responsible for making a noteworthy contribution to UK prosperity and effective modern rail services are a critical part of the UK’s national infrastructure,” Sid begins. “In 2014, it was estimated that the UK railway delivered 1.6 billion passenger journeys covering 37 billion passenger miles, observed to be 50 per cent higher than the mid-1990s. The UK is estimated to have approximately 19,336 track miles…”

Citing HS2, Manchester Metrolink, Crossrail and Midland Metro Alliance as examples, Sid highlights that this substantial growth has led to economic regeneration and significant investment in large-scale heavy and light-rail schemes. The regeneration has included a move towards a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly system.

Sid moves on to address the various long-term rail strategies in place in the UK, including the Rail Technology Strategy, the Network Rail Strategy and Transport for London’s strategy for the London Underground. “This is seen as an exemplar by other overseas railway companies and provides a valuable degree of clarity on long-term-technology priorities, which is an essential prerequisite for investment, innovation, and strategic alignment across the industry,” he explains.

Acknowledging that the UK rail supply chain has been considered poor at encouraging collaboration between different tiers, especially at the small- and medium-sized enterprises level, Sid says that “it is essential railways think outside of the box”, to “relook at the supply chain system of railways” and to “use the latest concepts in supply chain management” to move forward.

Sid also considers the impact of Brexit, improving diversity within the industry and digitising the UK railway. “The technology in conjunction with efficient procurement can prove to be a winning combination, thus optimising time performance, avoiding delays and building a better and advance UK rail system. With the world moving towards high-speed trains, and the UK already making global news with HS2, now is the right time for the country’s rail supply chain to willingly contribute and make a difference noticeable to the entire world,” he concludes.

You can read the article in full at issuu.com (pp.87–89).