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TRAINING & STAFF DEVELOPMENT


The bigger picture


Philippa Oldham, head of transport at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), spoke to RTM about the HLOS investment and what this will mean for the next generation of trainees.


O


n July 16, the Government announced a package of investment in the rail


network worth £9.2bn. The High Level Output Specification (HLOS) detailed around £5bn worth of work for the completion of current schemes during CP5, with another £4bn to fund new projects.


Head of transport at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Philippa Oldham, welcomed the breadth of the specification.


Virtually the whole country got a look-in, with investment for all sorts of regional projects announced all over the country, as well as those with more strategic and national implications, to create an integrated network across the UK. Oldham told RTM that the announcement was “really positive”, in this way – for its consideration of the bigger picture.


“We don’t often see that from the Government,” Oldham said.


While most of the industry celebrated the announcement, parts of which went above and beyond what had been expected, there were inevitably schemes that missed out on funding.


Among the more high-profile examples of this was a proposed electrification and upgrade of ‘GOBLIN’, the Gospel Oak-Barking line in London, which was left out of the HLOS.


Commenting on the scale of the investment, Oldham said: “Obviously there’s always going to be more that could be done, depending on where you live.


“But what I think is good news is that it is actually across the country: the Midlands, the north, Wales, the East Coast. That it’s linked them all together is really good.”


Integrated vision Oldham commented that from this latest


announcement, it seemed as if the Government is doing “the right sort of thing”, but warned that rail must be integrated with other modes of transport, and called for further clarity on funding for the massive investment was necessary.


Will passengers bear the brunt of the cost? Or will it be more spread out with public subsidy? This is one of the Institution’s concerns, she said.


“They’re talking about a lot of investment, but they haven’t said how they are going to pay for it.”


A funding solution could be achieved from a larger, integrated transport vision, she added, where the Government can identify cost savings throughout the work.


“The Government has got to make sure it’s an integrated vision.


38 | rail technology magazine Aug/Sep 12


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