News & Case Studies

31 July 2017

EEF Affiliate Member Report by Martin Little, Commercial Director, Rail Alliance

Rail Alliance is an Affiliate Partner of the EEF, The Manufacturers’ Organisation.


As a cross-sector voice to Government the EEF is passionately proactive, the Rail Alliance wholly supportive of this. Rail Alliance membership is in itself representative of one of the UK’s largest engineering and manufacturing industries and our role is to communicate needs and concerns – as well as good news – from real businesses in our manufacturing community. Indeed, as a ‘typical’ Rail Alliance member operates in sectors additional to rail we are particularly well placed to observe and provide comment.


Our engagement is primarily representing the rail supply chain through EEF’s Affiliate Partner forums, at which matters-of-moment are discussed. The output from these discussions, combined with the considerable findings from its quarterly economic and manufacturing output surveys, forms the EEF’s dialogue with UK government in its aim of delivering best trade outcomes through appropriately considered manufacturing strategy.


We will summarise the highlights from these meetings and encourage feedback and comment from Rail Alliance members using the link below. With Brexit currently dominating the discussions, we are keen that manufacturers and employers at all levels of our industry are heard.


19th July, 2017.

The EEF Affiliate Partners monthly conference addressed the migration risk and the skills shortage posed by Brexit, with comment on statistics and the current state of play. There is not much that is new here, the figures being generic, but this served to illustrate that this was a key part of Terry Scuoler’s (EEF Chief Executive) imminent meeting with the Prime Minister on manufacturing outlook.

Contributing to the Export Support part of the agenda, the Rail Alliance commented that we as an industry represent more than simply rail – our skills are portable to and from other sectors as indeed is our manufacturing output capability. There is an argument for strategic investment in skills that can be used in more than one market for the greater good of our national skills base. As a growth sector rail offers a safe route-to-market for any such funding. This would be particularly focused once those markets with whom the UK is looking to establish Trade Agreements were known, thereby enabling an understanding of specific needs.

Observations were made in general manufacturing output terms in that

  1. Some exporters are seeing record sales through the weaker pound
  2. China’s recent increase in cheaply available materials and goods is putting significant strain on trade in general, while at the same time creating barriers to its imports to address its over-capacity.

There is some talk of ‘grandfathering’ existing EU trade rights as an interim arrangement while the undoubtedly long and complicated process of new FTA’s are negotiated. This is a process almost universally agreed as needing more than the two years in scope. The DIT has apparently taken this on board but it was commented there was a lack of any detail yet. The EEF is lobbying for Transition Deals for EU trade, with a ‘significant statement’ pending. It was mentioned that secondary legislation is being privately considered that would allow ministers the power to ‘usher in’ elements of EU legislation as suits – the EEF is aware of this and will monitor and aim to control to make sure they are the right fit for business.


These meetings will be held each month and we encourage and welcome comment and suggestions from Rail Alliance members, which can be submitted here:

For any press enquiries contact Eli on 01789 720026

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