Brexit and the Railways

I was recently given a document entitled “seven key principles for Brexit” produced by the Rail Delivery Group, which works with Network Rail and the passenger and the freight operating companies.

Their key concerns were the following:

  • That exiting the EU should not compromise safety as we leave European legislative and regulatory standards.
  • They want legal certainty and the current applicable legislation should not be disapplied by stealth, as the government is proposing.
  • They want to continue to retain the ability to access a skilled workforce, in other words they are worried about restrictions on EU freedom of movement.
  • They want freight and passenger operators who currently run international services to retain the ability to access non-UK infrastructure without undue delay, cost or operational boundaries.
  • They want to retain access to the EU markets to offer services overseas and expertise.
  • They are worried about loss of influence on the shaping of technical standards when the UK no longer has a seat around the table, but they nonetheless wish to keep common standards in place for international traffic.
  • They are worried about losing access to EU research and innovation programmes.

Most of these demands are not compatible with the ‘hard’ Brexit proposed by the government. Indeed, most of them require at least remaining inside the single European market and the customs union. Though the best way to meet them entirely would, of course, be to remain within the European Union.

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