Doubling rail exports by 2025

Andy Milner, Chief Executive Officer
02 October 2017
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There is great potential for growth in the rail sector. The fresh collaborative approach adopted by the Exports Leadership Group aims to see rail exports doubled, helping the UK become a global market leader.

The UK rail industry is a catalyst of innovation and achievement, driving significant benefit to the UK economy. As the government begins its Brexit negotiations, the rail sector must come together to showcase its skills, capabilities and products to develop a unique export proposition for the UK.

The Exports Leadership Group (ELG) is working to double exports by 2025 – a genuinely realistic target. We can access an extensive range of capabilities that underpin our ability to deliver considerable improvements to the UK and global rail networks, providing a platform to ensure our ability to export the results of our ingenuity. However, the industry can be fragmented, and to maximise the potential, the whole sector must be well-represented throughout the Brexit process. The ELG will coordinate a new approach that will involve sitting with the supply chain together with key industry partners such as Network Rail, TOCs, rail industry trade organisations and government departments to drive export policy and manage the implementation under the umbrella of the RDG.

The ELG is part of the Rail Supply Group (RSG), which is the leadership body for the UK rail supply sector, bringing together government and the private sector to champion the supply chain, from SMEs to multinational companies, in every part of the UK. We have always been at the forefront of rail engineering and it is important that we maintain this reputation. SMEs play a pivotal role in achieving this, bringing innovation, technology and fresh thinking to the rail sector and the ability to establish new and dynamic ways to strengthen the domestic market and grow exports.

In addition, the RSG recently formed a new partnership with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) to better co-ordinate shared objectives and further strengthen the voice of industry. The new partnership will offer closer alignment and collaboration between train operators, Network Rail and their supply chains, and give government and stakeholders a ‘one-stop-shop’ to communicate with the industry. Together, the RSG and the RDG can give an even stronger voice for UK rail, providing a unified solution to government and industry.

We have a clear framework for success with commitment from government and leading rail organisations to support and promote the work of the ELG. However, success also requires the supply chain to work together in a co-ordinated and disciplined way. The industry needs to recognise the importance of sharing intelligence, coordinating some of our development initiatives, agreeing to common export targets and working collaboratively to achieve these.

The inaugural meeting of the ELG in July was successful, receiving positive contributions from a number of industry leaders and the rail minister, Paul Maynard MP. Maynard’s attendance demonstrated the significance of the group and highlighted it as a key priority for government which helped to reinforce the strategic priorities of the ELG.

The ELG will develop strategies based on a framework of activity that includes scoping priority markets for better industry insight into opportunities, enhancing related export support and funding mechanisms, and developing an approach for UK and international consortia to improve UK market share.

To ensure this is a tangible opportunity for the rail market, we will work closely with the Infrastructure Exports: UK Group (IE:UK), which connects organisations, enabling them to bid for global infrastructure contracts as a single ‘Team UK’ consortia, to deliver complex projects by combining their expertise. The rail sector can make a fundamental contribution to this new approach and the Exports Leadership Group offers an opportunity to work collaboratively as an industry to showcase the exceptional talent, capability and intellectual solutions available from the UK rail industry.

There is great potential for growth in the rail sector at home and abroad and the fresh collaborative approach adopted by the Exports Leadership Group is a real opportunity to help the UK become a global market leader. As a group, we will work with the rail supply chain to improve the promotion of international opportunities, increase support for exports and develop funding mechanisms that better involve new exporters.

This article originally appeared in Rail Professional

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