As another month passes, it certainly feels like we are playing a waiting game. We are waiting for restrictions to ease –a massive step forwards was taken in England on 12 April with the reopening of shops and, most importantly for many, hairdressers! In Scotland and Wales, the opportunity to go for a haircut was available a little earlier as the easing of restrictions moves at slightly different paces.
As I write, and as this magazine goes on sale, we are in a period of purdah ahead of the local elections on 6 May. This creates an element of waiting as it puts major political announcements on hold, as such politicking is not allowed in the immediate period prior to polling day. There was thus something of a flurry of announcements during mid-March as governments across the UK sought to beat the purdah deadline – hence the larger than usual number of news pages this month!
A flurry of announcements but, as we predicted in last month’s ‘Railtalk’, an absence of big policy statements from the UK Government. In particular, the hoped-for publication of the Williams Review didn’t appear before the pre-election period, meaning it will be at least mid-May before it sees the light of day. No sign, either, of the Integrated Rail Plan setting out the phasing of HS2 with Northern Powerhouse Rail, upgrades in the Midlands and other enhancements. Nor of the Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan, where we are hoping the rolling programme of electrification that is desperately needed will at last get the sign-off.