Britain is recognised by the European Commission as having the best railway in Europe, because it is a ‘model’ rail system that EU policy makers are urging other member states to follow and adapt in the running of their own networks.
The claim, which comes at a time of record-breaking passenger numbers and rising passenger satisfaction on the UK’s rail network, was made by Jim Steer FCILT in a wide-ranging speech setting out his agenda for the next twelve months as the incoming President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT).
Jim Steer told his audience of influential professionals at the President’s inauguration lunch in London, that: "The EU is encouraging member states to follow the British example in managing their railways and they cite ours as the best railway in Europe."
He also set out his Presidential priorities for the next year. Jim Steer announced his core theme this year would be the role and contribution of transport and logistics to the economy, and their vital contribution to trade, employment, and competitiveness.
The challenges are immense, Jim Steer acknowledged. The growth of London in recent years, in contrast to the rest of the country, is something that needs understanding and addressing. He emphasised that very big decisions lie ahead – particularly airport capacity for south East England. The CILT, he said, is unique in having the experts needed to make a real contribution to the debate and to decision-making. He said that the Institute has a special and unmatched strength when adjoining disciplines within CILT came together. It is also his aim to promote the profession to young people and new entrants, and convey the excitement and importance of the logistics, transport and planning sectors.
On high-speed rail, Jim Steer said: "People have not yet fully realised the benefits of HS2. It will link three of our largest airports and we need to think about the high-speed logistics functionality this gives us. Once HS2 has been built, we will look back on its development and its huge benefits, just as we now reflect on the national motorway network built in the last half of the last century."
Jim Steer also intends to continue the work of the Institute’s outgoing President, Graham Inglis, FCILT – CEO DHL Supply Chain Europe – particularly his themes of better safety for all road users, and ensuring that the logistical lessons of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are learnt and applied.
Jim Steer’s Presidency was launched with a key-note speech by Transport Minister Stephen Hammond. He emphasised the vital importance of integrated transport: "We often pay lip-service to this but we need to overcome ‘modal silos’. The CILT can help to act as a bridge and bring people together from different modes to work together."
The Minister added: "Transport now enjoys a higher profile in government than it did in previous years. In former times it might have been seen as one post away from Northern Ireland! Today it is a key economic ministry. Transport is now seen in government as a top priority and there is recognition that the traditional ‘stop-go’ cycle must end. "