July insights from the NSAR Chief Executive

With a new Government comes new opportunities and challenges. Ed Hughes has more below on what the outcome will mean for the rail industry. It will be important to communicate our strengths to the new Government, as well as our weaknesses, and show that rail can play an important role in boosting growth, achieving net zero, and more.

I would like to acknowledge RSA Insurance, who ran an insightful event at the House of Lords last week on rail skills, safety and the role of training. Well done to RSA Insurance for putting on an excellent event and helping their customers, and others, better understand the risks associated with insufficient and ineffective training.

Impact of the general election on rail

Ed Hughes, Head of Policy and Engagement

The result
Labour has won a commanding majority in the general election, with Keir Starmer now Prime Minister after delivering Labour’s biggest victory since 1997. However, the situation is very different from 1997. While the majority is huge, it is also frail. Labor and the Conservatives have polled their lowest since 1918; it was an election of apathy towards both main parties. This is important because it will significantly impact how Labour chooses to govern. They will need to focus on unifying voters and solidifying their support, which will most likely lead to them occupying more of the centre ground. Do not expect anything radical quickly.

Labour’s main priorities for Government
Growth will be the priority for this Government. Boosting growth is crucial; without it, the new Government will struggle to generate the necessary tax revenue for the improvements it wants to make to public services. Expect this issue to dominate in the first year. There will be a clearer picture of how they intend to do this in the next budget (expected in mid-late September at the earliest). We do, however, expect infrastructure (and potentially rail) to play a major part in the new Government’s push for growth.

Another key priority, not necessarily by choice, will be getting control of public spending and borrowing, a looming issue. From what the party has stated, we should not expect the spending taps to turn on anytime soon. Other key priorities will be energy, climate and health care.

What happens next for rail?
Over the next hundred days, you can expect a flurry of announcements, including a new Rail Reform Bill, which will be set out in the King’s Speech on 17 July and will give some clarity on the new Government’s initial priorities for rail. After this, we expect… read the rest of Ed Hughes’ insights here, including Labour’s longer-term plan for Rail and key legislation.

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