Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

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

February 2021


Price: £95 PLUS VAT
Format: DOWNLOADABLE PDF


***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; HSE; HMRC; HM Treasury; 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 - levelling up the north through rail innovation and industry clustering
  • 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
    • 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 Transport Secretary announcing £794m investment to improve connectivity across the UK, with specific plans to 
    • deliver the next phase of East West Rail, which the Government predicts will create 1,500 new skilled jobs
    • open the final round of the Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund, to help restore unused rail infrastructure and reopen closed rail routes in the north of England 
  • 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 stake holders. 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; the Health and Safety Executive; HM Revenue and Customs; HM Treasury; and Transport Scotland. Also due to attend are representatives from 1Spatial; Air Products; Associated British Ports; BAM Nuttall; Buckles Solicitors; Burges Salmon; CEPA; Costain; English Regional Transport Association; Fereday Pollard Architects; Highways England; London Forum of Amenity & Civic Societies; Network Rail; Network Rail Infrastructure; PwC; Ruth Jackson Planning; Scottish Accessible Transport Alliance; skanska; Transport for the North and University of Leeds.


Press passes have been reserved by representatives from the Global Railway Review and Rail-Media Group.


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



This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles