• 18th November 2020

Featured article: An insight into the rail industry

Brexit consumed not only the Rail market but the whole of the UK and all trade within it for 18 months.


The back and forth between government officials caused no end of uncertainty for everyone and naturally had very negative effects on Britain in general, let alone the Rail market. Rail was an afterthought for the government, and HS2 seemed like a thing of the past. CP6 funds were not a priority, which left Rail companies from Tier 1 at a loss for any work to keep them ticking over with no real end in sight. The UK was essentially put on ice whilst an agreement was decided in Parliament. Boris was very vocal about his intentions to invest in British Infrastructure and when he eventually took over, HS2 whispers again started. Once it was declared that we would be leaving the EU and Boris’s plans to invest in the region of £5bn into Rail and Infrastructure were revealed, things started to look promising and a lot of faces seemed to light up within the industry, mine included.

Everything was looking very promising; Bids and Tenders were going in thick and fast. Frameworks were being awarded and at long last HS2 was really catching momentum. JV’s had been formed to carry out the works with a promise of thousands of jobs. Some of the key Crossrail Stations were essentially completed; the likes of Paddington had been dramatically turned around and it was just a backlog of Assurance documentation left for many of them before final Commissioning works. IR35 was looming in the background of course, but morale was nonetheless high. A lot of excellent candidates who had been out of work for too long given their ability were back in roles and doing what they did best. There was a real buzz about the industry, and it seemed like those miserable few years were behind us.

Cue COVID-19…

The Coronavirus caught the world off guard, not just the UK Rail market, but every corner of the world was caught in the fallout. Just when everything was looking up, the virus hit like a hurricane and it looked like we could be back to square one. I, for one, was furloughed through the majority of the lockdown. However, I know many others were not so lucky. Coming back to work to hear of the implications the virus had had on many of the friends I had made in my 4 years was tough. Various clients had gone bust, more work had been shelved and again uncertainty was rife throughout the market. 

One thing that I have always admired about Rail amongst many things, is its resilience, both physically in the strength and the complexity of its systems but also within its people. We are now at a point after many difficult years where we have an influx of money and work to keep its loyal and patient workforce busy for what seems like many years to come. HS2 has alone promised 22,000 jobs along the line and it seems Rail, in general, will be vital in the upturn of the British economy. CP6 Frameworks are finally moving; East West Rail is underway and HS2 has overcome its various obstacles and boots are at last on the ground.

This is a great time to be involved in Rail and everyone who has stuck with it should be feeling very optimistic and excited about the future. Graduates are again interested in the industry and those who have ventured overseas are returning to seek work back on British shores. There will no doubt be further hurdles to overcome and, yes, IR35 will be coming into play in April but we are on the brink of a Rail boom and it’s an exciting time for us all.

This article is the final part of a 2-part series.

Lewis Salter - one thing I have always admired about rail

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