Catherine West visited the depot in Hornsey where she gained an insight into railway operations and investment which takes place behind the scenes. The visit was part of the Rail Fellowship Programme which is organised by Railway Industry Association (RIA).
The programme provides stakeholders and politicians with the knowledge, information and insights necessary to make informed decisions about the rail sector.
Hornsey rail maintenance depot is operated by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and is the home to Rock Rail's first UK fleet, the Class 717s.
Rock Rail is an independent developer, owner and asset manager of passenger rolling stock and rail infrastructure. It has provided innovative funding approaches for rolling stock and infrastructure since being established in 2014. Since 2016, more than £3bn of institutional investment has been secured with Rock Rail playing a pivotal role in transforming passenger journeys and delivering enhanced value for money to the public sector.
During the visit, Ms West observed various aspects of the depot's operations including stops at the wheel lathe/bogie drop, the signal panel, and the maintenance shed. She also took a ride in the cab of a Class 717 to appreciate the perspective from the front of the train.
Catherine West said: ‘Witnessing the collaboration between Govia Thameslink Railway and Rock Rail in replacing Britain's oldest electric rail fleet highlighted the transformative impact of strategic investments in our rail infrastructure. Rock Rail's innovative funding approaches have played a crucial role in reshaping passenger journeys and my tour of the depot offered insight into this vital work stream within the rail industry, witnessing first-hand how residents of Hornsey and Wood Green are helping to build a more efficient, sustainable and resilient rail network for local communities across the UK.”
Matt Allen, Rock Rail Chief Investment Officer, added: “We really appreciated engaging with Catherine as a key stakeholder in a local community where our rail fleet investment is supporting the local economy and creating employment and skills opportunities. We were very proud to showcase the difference that investment from institutional and public sector pension funds into the railway is making. I am also grateful to the team at the RIA for developing the programme.”
Neal Blackman, Business Engagement Manager at the RIA, said: “Rock Rail's innovative approach to financing new trains has provided real benefits for passengers in Hornsey and Wood Green and communities across GTR's network. It's a reminder that private investment in infrastructure and rolling stock can turbocharge public funding and deliver a better railway for passengers and taxpayers”.