Latest News | 3 February 2022

Rail forum makes case for on-shoring rolling stock content

Rail Forum
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Rail Forum Midlands has called for more on-shoring after a new study found that only a quarter of rolling stock content is sourced from the UK.

The research, undertaken by Oxera on behalf of the rail forum, estimates that the assembly, manufacturing and maintenance of rolling stock generates £1.8 billion GVA for the UK economy and supports around 27,000 jobs.

However, as little as 25% of new build rolling stock content is sourced from the UK, rising to around 50% in the refurbishment market.

Oxera’s research also indicates that at least 2,000 new high skilled jobs could be created in the manufacturing heartlands of the North and Midlands through the on-shoring of rail-related manufacturing back to the UK.

According to the rail forum, which represents rail firms across the region and beyond, UK suppliers find themselves at a “constant disadvantage” to their overseas counterparts with no mandated requirements for ‘local content’ unlike in other countries.

The forum claims that transporting parts and assemblies vast distances does not provide a long-term sustainable solution, especially when they can be manufactured competitively and to the same, or higher quality, by the UK supply chain.

It believes that “significant opportunities” exist to stimulate local manufacturing, driving up the percentage of UK content including through creative European collaborative partnerships that could compete with Far Eastern imports, increasing supply chain resilience and reducing carbon emissions.

Elaine Clark, chief executive of Rail Forum Midlands, said; “It is now vital that the Government’s procurement policies support and encourage higher levels of UK content to ensure that UK plc capitalises on the opportunities of current and future rolling stock procurement exercises.

“During the preparation of the Oxera report numerous supply chain companies, including Tier Ones, expressed the view that Government should be clearer in terms of expectations for UK content.

“The setting of ambitious targets would provide a much-needed starting point if we want to turn the ambition in the Net Zero Strategy into a reality.”

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