New research argues that the UK rail network has a significantly higher economic value than previously thought at more than £36bn annually and provides around 600,000 jobs - more than the entire workforce of Birmingham.
The research, carried out by Oxford Economics, says the UK’s rail system provides a greater economic impact than the food, drink and tobacco manufacturing and the chemical and pharmaceutical industries at £36.4bn annually – and generates £11bn in tax revenue and £2.20 of income from every £1 spent on it.
Parliamentary launch of the research with Mr Caplan third from right
It says that ‘the near-600,000 jobs supported by railway-related demand amount to more than the total number of employed workers in any UK local authority area outside of London. This includes the local authority areas of major cities including Birmingham’.
Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), which published the research, said: ‘The implications of this report are clear. The UK rail system should not be seen just as a vital mode of travel – connecting businesses, friends and family, and visitors to the UK – but also as a key industry for the economy in its own right.
‘We urge the Government to consider and use the findings of this report when developing its Industrial Strategy agenda, negotiating trade deals with other countries once we have left the EU, and when promoting our world-class exports offering overseas generally.’
Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘There is a very strong case for the Government to build on this strength with a long-term investment strategy, including support for a long-term electrification programme, to promote rail as a pillar of the UK economy.’
The RIA said the Government is currently using figures that show the UK rail sector employs 240,000 people and has an economic value of rail at £10.4bn but that these figures 'do not take into account the wider rail network, including metro services and catering and retail at stations'.