In a sense we have a duty to export our knowledge. After all, the UK’s unique mix of ageing and ultra-modern infrastructure means that engineers from the sector are in demand all over the world. Today the rail industry contributes around £9.3b to the UK economy each year with nearly one in five European passenger journeys taking place in the UK – we have the fastest growing rail network in Europe and highly regarded projects such as Crossrail prove, yet again, our high levels of experience and expertise.

A further example of our knowledge being in demand comes from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) which has overseen programmes of sharing expertise on rail safety with many countries, in particular Dubai and Singapore. In a recent article, the ORR stated that sharing knowledge and experience is beneficial to both parties. However, it then transpires that despite acknowledging that this programme provides a showcase for UK rail expertise on the world market, exporting its skills is a low priority for the ORR at present. Looks like another missed opportunity.

Worldwide we are seeing signs that other countries believe that infrastructure, in particular rail, is a foundation to long term prosperity. Richard Vuylsteke, outgoing president of the American Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong, recently said that the region should establish more physical infrastructure connecting it with Pearl River Delta cities to enhance its role as a link between international investors and southern China.  In addition, with the right transport links in place, Hong Kong is poised to benefit from growth in the Pearl River Delta area and China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, which aims to establish road, railway and other infrastructure projects linking and improving trade between China and more than 60 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. “The key for Hong Kong to continue to attract international investors is to build more roads, railways and subways to link up Hong Kong with Macau, Qianhai, Shenzhen and many of the Pearl River Delta cities,” said Mr Vuylsteke in an interview with the South China Morning Post.