Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

The future of rail infrastructure in the UK - CP6, the Integrated Rail Plan, and delivering modernisation

Morning, Thursday, 4th February 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will assess the next steps for managing and modernising rail infrastructure in the UK.

Areas for discussion include:

  • priorities for track and rolling stock upgrades
  • the service offered to passengers and communities
  • tackling challenges for connectivity
  • delivering regional transport strategies

It takes place with the Government outlining its ambition for the development of UK rail infrastructure in a national context, and its key policy priorities for:

  • improving rail links
  • infrastructure development that supports better services for passengers and prospects for economic growth across the UK

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the DfT; the ORR; the CMA; DIT; the Government Legal Department; and Transport Scotland.

The agenda:

  • Long-term policy for UK rail infrastructure - ensuring that track and train can serve the needs of passengers, communities and industry into the future
  • Next steps for expanding rail connectivity, supporting economic growth, and delivering the Integrated Rail Plan
    • Progress on developing Northern Powerhouse Rail, major city connections, and mobilising regional delivery partners
    • Priorities for regional transport policy and addressing rail infrastructure deficiencies
    • The future of nationally integrated high-speed rail in the UK - the vision and strategy, cost effectiveness and financial prudence, and working towards timely delivery of key phases
  • Scaling up track infrastructure modernisation and rolling out improvements as part of CP6 - funding, supply chains, and enabling wider services
    • Priorities for rail network infrastructure development and the policy to support its delivery
    • Developing domestic supply chains for infrastructure and rolling stock, and skills and engineering capacity
    • Rail financial sustainability and effective engagement with public and private funding sources
    • Preparing the network to meet the challenges of increases in rail freight
    • Innovation, track modernisation and latest developments in engineering solutions
  • Creating a rail network to serve tomorrow’s passengers and restore user numbers - service frequency and reliability, safety and wellbeing, and rolling out smart system upgrades
  • The future for regulating railway operations and the next steps for addressing priorities from the Williams Rail Review White Paper

Areas for discussion:

  • long-term policy for UK track and train development - the needs of passengers, areas for national rail improvement, and coordinating and serving regional priorities
  • linking urban centres:
    • working with regional sets of public and private stakeholders
    • the process of joining up varying transport plans and strategies
    • opportunities for accelerating consents and streamlining the approval process
  • achieving potential upsides - ensuring that enhanced regional rail connectivity translates into strengthened commercial and strategic business links, and social benefits in areas such as housing
  • high-speed rail development - clarity of purpose, financing models, cost efficiency, managing stakeholder and environmental impact, and achievable and practical timelines for project completion
  • delivering CP6 priorities - reducing the complexities of nationwide engineering projects, adapting to changing rail user needs, and boosting cooperation across system and franchise operators
  • domestic supply chains - engagement and involvement, enabling the role in regional economic recovery, and targets for skills development and cross-sector strategies for addressing gaps
  • finance - delivering value and efficient use of public funding, enhancing attractiveness for private investment, and working with delivery partners to reduce costs
  • freight - enhancing capacity, including options for freight-specific track, reorienting passenger rail use for freight, and coordinating decision-making with regional policymakers
  • White Paper priorities - following the Williams Rail Review, how best to design a rail and passenger system that improves reliability, accountability, and value for money
  • a user-first model - how to ensure that the passenger is at the centre of system reform, new operator models encourage higher performance, and rollout of flexible and more affordable ticketing
  • the rail and operator system - latest thinking on the future role of private rail firms, promoting competition and revenue stability, and the scope of a more accountable system for passenger services
  • smart upgrades - delivering digital railway signalling systems, enhanced track and train communication, and modernising services for ticketing and journey planning
  • COVID-19 and service recovery - minimising ongoing disruption, steps for the safe resumption of services, managing the impact on profitability and funding models, and safeguarding the health and wellbeing of passengers and staff

The policy context:

  • High-Speed Rail 2 - which after formal Government backing aims to transform rail connectivity between London, the Midlands and the North
  • the Integrated Rail Plan - aimed at tying together HS2 with other regional transport projects, the wider goals of Northern Powerhouse Rail, and infrastructure to support economic opportunities
  • Network Rail’s ongoing Control Period 6 (CP6) - with:
    • £42bn earmarked for over five years from 2019 for renewing, expanding and modernising track infrastructure
    • a pipeline of projects intended to engage UK construction engineering partners, stimulate supply chain activity, and enhance rail reliability and services
  • the Williams Rail Review - a White Paper expected next year following its final recommendations including:
    • an end to the franchising model
    • creation of a 'guiding mind' to control track and train operations
    • enabling centralised control to smooth over passenger services and system upgrades 
  • the Union Connectivity Review - examining options for greater transport and rail connectivity between the four nations of the UK, with recommendations due for publication in Summer 2021
  • the National Infrastructure Strategy - outlining long-term UK infrastructure needs up to 2050, and the steps required for developing rail as part of a central transport and economic enabler
  • the DfT Acceleration Unit - launched to help speed-up the delivery of infrastructure projects and policy initiatives to support a fast and green recovery from COVID-19
  • the PM’s A New Deal for Britain - as part of the Government's renewed ambition for infrastructure delivery, proposing economic recovery through infrastructure development, including rail
  • Budget 2020 - with £640bn for public infrastructure development, with rail identified as key for growth and levelling up all UK regions
  • The National Infrastructure Commission’s Rail Needs Assessment - for the Midlands and the North, with recommendations for developing a programme of rail investments, including on opportunities and benefits of focusing on upgrades and prioritising regional and long distance links in the region

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Lords, and officials from the Department for Transport; the Office of Rail & Road; the Competition and Markets Authority; the Department for International Trade; the Government Legal Department; and Transport Scotland.

Overall, we expect further speakers and other delegates to be an informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials involved in this area of public policy, together with track operators, rail franchises, Metro Mayors and local authorities, engineering and construction companies, investment firms, legal and consultancy organisations, passenger groups, academics and commentators, as well as reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

John Larkinson

Chief Executive Officer, Office of Rail and Road

James Heath

Chief Executive Officer, National Infrastructure Commission

Keynote Speakers

Jon Loveday

Director of Infrastructure, Enterprise and Growth, Infrastructure and Projects Authority

James Heath

Chief Executive Officer, National Infrastructure Commission

John Larkinson

Chief Executive Officer, Office of Rail and Road


Lord Bradshaw

Vice-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rail

Angela Richardson MP

Vice-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on South Western Railway


Tim Wood

Director, Northern Powerhouse Rail, Transport for the North

Kate Jennings

Policy Director, Railway Industry Association

Andrew Meaney

Partner, Oxera

Susan Evans

Rail, Bridges and Structures Business Director, AECOM

Mary Hewitt

Strategy & Policy Director, Arriva

Norman Baker

Adviser to the Chief Executive Office, Campaign for Better Transport

Professor Andrew Smith

Professor of Transport Performance and Economics, University of Leeds

Professor Peter Woodward

Chair, High Speed Rail Engineering, University of Leeds

Maggie Simpson

Director General, Rail Freight Group