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The UK government has launched a new forum to help British businesses in the railway industry win work in the UK and abroad.
Business secretary Vince Cable and transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced the Rail Industry Supply Chain Forum during a visit to Hitachi's new £82 million manufacturing plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
The forum will help the government understand the capability of UK suppliers to inform rail investment plans and identify where support is needed. The forum will also reduce the risk of UK suppliers facing “feast and famine” in their order books.
“Ultimately, a more innovative and capable UK supply chain that has a clearer understanding of government policies and investment plans should result in lower industry costs and a better, more reliable railway,” a statement said.
Terence Watson, the UK president of transport firm Alstom will chair the forum. He said: “With programmes like Crossrail, HS2 and regional schemes opening up, it’s clear that there are incredible opportunities to be grasped by the UK supply chain.
“I’m determined to help industry and government develop its strategic capability and also to develop our many rail SMEs to ensure that they can win more work both in the UK and abroad.”
Cable added: “Hitachi’s decision to base its European factory in Newton Aycliffe shows the UK is an attractive place for international businesses to invest and grow. It also underlines the industrial benefits of the rail revolutions now taking place in the UK. As well as attracting inward investment, we also need to develop a strong, co-ordinated and competitive supply chain that complements and supports other industry initiatives.
“The creation of the Rail Supply Chain Forum will ensure we are working in partnership with industry in line with our industrial strategy, so British businesses are better able to win work.”