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Rail sector deal 'to encourage new entrants'

The government has called for industry to embrace digital technology in a bid to drive productivity as part of its new sector deal.

The deal, released today, said investment in infrastructure is “crucial” in order for rail to achieve its full potential and bring it into the 21st century.

The settlement for CP6 is an indication of the government’s confidence in the industry,” the deal said.

“Early engagement with the supply chain will provide them with the confidence to invest in the necessary capacity to carry these projects through successfully and at a manageable cost, including by encouraging new entrants into the sector,” it said.

Plans outlined in the deal include turning the UK into a global leader in high-speed rail and making sure industry collaborates to allow further government backing.

Commenting on the deal, parliamentary under secretary of state for transport Andrew Jones said: “The deal contains mutual commitments that will encourage innovation to improve passenger experience, provide the confidence necessary for investment in capital and skills, while reducing the cost to the taxpayer of state-of-the art digital rail control systems.”

The publication of the rail sector deal coincides with a root-and-branch review of the entire rail industry by the Department for Transport.

Led by former chief executive of British Airways Keith Williams, the review has launched a call for evidence from businesses and passengers across the country to help draw up what the review dubs as “ambitious reforms to help railway meet demands of the 21st century.”

According to details of the deal, modernising the UK’s rail signalling systems could lead to savings of up to £38bn per year, depending on the level of uptake of new technologies.

The £420m construction sector deal launched in July after initially being delayed due to the collapse of contractor Carillion in January.

The deal included £170m towards innovations that increased productivity and speed up the housebuilding process.

It said the money will be aimed at halving the time it takes to deliver new-build projects and halving the energy use of new builds by 2030.

Last month, Mace chief executive Mark Reynolds called on the government to reward firms that ‘take the lead’ on modern methods of construction.

Mr Reynolds was commenting on the government’s announcement that it plans to put MMC at the heart of its £600bn public pipeline.

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