The Rail Sector Deal was launched on 6 December 2018.

What is the Rail Sector Deal?

Sector Deals form part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy – they are broad agreements between an industry and the government to establish a partnership approach to creating opportunities that boost productivity, employment, innovation and skills in key sectors of the economy.

The Rail Supply Group (RSG), in partnership with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), has worked with Government to develop an industry led proposal: the Rail Sector Deal, published in December 2018.

The Rail Sector Deal focuses efforts across seven work-streams with four key pillars:

  • transformation through digitalisation
  • pioneering intelligent mobility
  • delivering a sustainable UK rail sector
  • export and inward investment

There are three cross-cutting themes:

  • productivity
  • skills and people
  • SME growth through collaboration and shared apprenticeships and schools engagement – Midlands-based pilot programmes

The programmes and pilots will run for three years and are led by industry, client and Government champions with delivery largely undertaken by industry representative bodies, including Rail Forum Midlands, Railway Industry Association, Digital Railway Board, Rail Delivery Group, and National Skills Academy for Rail.

Overall responsibility for delivery of the Sector Deal lies with the RSG Council.

There is no specific additional funding from government to deliver these programmes.

Rail Forum Midlands is tasked to deliver two Midlands-based pilot programmes:

  • SME growth through collaboration
  • shared apprenticeships and schools engagement


The Midlands Pilots 

CEO of Resonate Group, Anna Ince is our industry champion.

In April 2019, Anna established a steering group with the following representatives to oversee our work:

Catherine De Marco, DfT            Robert Vaughan, DfT       

James Brewer, BEIS                     Michelle Craven-Faulkner, Vice Chair RFM     

Andy Scott,  Network Rail          Mary Grant, Porterbrook

Warren Manning, University of Derby

Joseph Infante, CPC Project Services and RSG SME Lead                                     

RFM is accountable to the RSG Council for delivery.

We have secured a small amount of ring-fenced funding to help us move these projects forward.


SME Growth Through Collaboration

This pilot programme seeks to break down some of the frequently raised issues and barriers that SMEs face on a regular basis including the challenge of understanding what clients actually want and need regarding innovation, competing against foreign imports, breaking into global supply chains and securing their intellectual property.

We are working with clients to identify real opportunities for import substitution, new or improved product requirements etc. and then gather enthusiastic SMEs to collaborate in response to these opportunities. We are keen to engage with SMEs interested in our work and you don’t have to be Midlands-based to be involved.

For details of specific challenges currently ‘live’ see the relevant page

SME Collaboration: Lightweighting Challenge


Shared Apprenticeships and Schools Engagement

This pilot incorporates two distinct pieces of work:

As an industry we need to recruit and train more apprentices:

  •  Our pilot will identify the barriers that SMEs face in recruiting and training apprentices and we will establish one or more ‘shared apprenticeship’ models to facilitate SMEs to get involved with apprenticeships.
  • We will identify training programmes where collaboration could work and seek proactive good quality training providers – further education colleges, universities and the private sector – to deliver these.

During 2020 this work has been paused as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic  – it will commence again in September 2020.

We will work with employers to offer a programme of coordinated education outreach activity across the Midlands:

  • we will map the current individual company education outreach activities across the Midlands.
  • we will develop a coordinated approach to ensure best use of our collective resources, clarity for schools and better experiences for young people.

Progress (August 2020)

We have made good progress on schools engagement, gathering a significant amount of data from key players currently involved in school or college outreach activities. Having mapped this we are working with a small number of major employers to identify how we can work more closely together for the benefit of the industry and the schools. A schools strategy framework has been drafted and will shortly be finalised. This will ave the way for the next phase of work – implementation!

How Do I Stay Informed / Get Involved?

We are keen to hear from employers and especially SMEs who wish to become informed about our activities and plans and we will keep this webpage updated.

If you would also like to subscribe to our mailing list for news and events updates or wish to become more actively involved in the rail sector deal then please contact

Context and Background to the Sector Deal

During 2017, the rail industry collected under the leadership of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and Rail Supply Group (RSG)  to develop proposals for a rail sector deal and an initial sector deal proposal document was submitted to government.

RFM made a significant contribution to this work on behalf of our members.

Government announced its overall Industrial Strategy on 27th November 2017.

The rail industry was encouraged to develop the initial proposals further and detailed proposals for a sector deal were submitted in October 2018.

View the One Railway video produced to support the rail sector deal submission here:

Rail Sector Deal Video