Recommendations could influence party policy ahead of election

The Labour party has appointed the former boss of Siemens to lead a review into rail and transport infrastructure.

Juergen Maier will chair a group of experts from across the sector who will look at how projects can be delivered better, quicker and more cost effectively, ultimately providing recommendations to Labour’s leadership on changes that could be made.

Launching the review, shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh bemoaned a “lost decade of Conservative delay, mismanagement and broken promises” which she said had caused costs to soar and harmed investment and growth.

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Source: UK Parliament

Lou Haigh criticised the Conservative government’s record on infrastructure delivery, calling the last 10 years a “lost decade”

She highlighted the government’s management of HS2, which was substantially cut back earlier this year after spiralling costs, and the failure to upgrade the Midland Mainline, the only mainline in the country still reliant on diesel trains.

“Labour are serious about learning the lessons from the staggering failure of the last decade and will draw from the brightest and best from around the world to learn lessons and share expertise on delivering transport infrastructure fit for the century ahead,” said Haigh.

Between 2014 and 2019, Maier was the chief executive of Siemens UK, the German multinational which is a leading player in Britain’s rail industry as a signalling and communications expert.

Since standing down, the 59-year-old has been vocal about the problems holding back British industry, appearing regularly on the BBC’s Question Time.

“We are in the deepest series of crises any of us in our professional careers have ever experienced,” he told The Guardian earlier this year.

“Yet, at the same time, we find ourselves with the worst possible relationship between business and government. It really is that bad.”

A Yorkshireman of Austrian extraction, Maier has also been an advocate of the interests of northern England – he is vice-chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and one of his final acts as Siemens chief was to move its HQ to Manchester, where he currently resides.

His review will consider changes that could be made to the planning system, the reliability and consistency of funding and the infrastructure pipeline, and the current capacity of public bodies to effectively partner, procure and deliver value-for-money infrastructure.

It will also examine how local supply chains can be aided more efficiently, the role of devolution, opportunities to unlock growth around major projects and leverage private investment.

Speaking about the goals of Labour’s review, Maier said: “There is no doubt that poor quality rail infrastructure is holding Britain back, hampering productivity, and deterring business investment.

“To turbocharge growth, quality infrastructure is not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have in this fast-moving new industrial age.

“That’s why I welcome Labour’s focus on learning lessons from the last decade, and I am delighted to lead this review.

“The more all political parties focus on the practical solutions needed, the better for the country.”