Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Essential That High Speed Two Caters for Freight Interests

Leading Industry Figures Comment on Government Announcement
Shipping News Feature

UK – Having recently started their new Poland/UK High Speed 1 oversize container service and teamed up with Network Rail to transport trains from Basel, Switzerland into the Hams Hall intermodal freight terminal in Birmingham, a move they say will save 100,000 kilometres of truck carriage with the resultant CO2 emission savings, DB Schenker was quick to make a statement supporting the Government statement regarding future development of the High Speed 2 infrastructure project which it says will secure the future growth of rail freight traffic. DB Schenker Rail (UK) Ltd Chief Executive Alain Thauvette was enthusiastic at the news saying:

“This investment will deliver wider benefits as it provides additional capacity for rail freight growth on the West Coast Main Line, the major route of consumption and production in the UK. This, combined with the continued investment in the Strategic Rail Freight Network, underlines the government’s commitment to develop rail infrastructure for rail freight to deliver modal shift from road.

“In the long term we urge the Government to connect both the High Speed 1 and High Speed 2 rail routes in London. By linking both these lines together, a route for continental sized freight trains from northern England to mainland Europe would be created enhancing trading links for manufacturing companies based there.”

A Command Paper setting out the new rules for rail franchises and a formal consultation on the restructuring of Network Rail is expected in February, bringing with it even greater implications for rail freight users. Christopher Snelling, Freight Transport Association's (FTA) Head of Supply Chain Policy, commented:

"For investment in infrastructure to provide best value it must give sufficient weight to the needs of those that move goods, not just passengers. While HS2 will yield only some indirect benefit to freight it most certainly shouldn’t be introduced at its expense, whether in terms of diverting funding away from other areas or by jeopardising existing freight paths.

"Rail freight demands a fair share of any capacity created by HS2 on the existing network. We must try to support what is not just a growing market, but one without which the UK’s emissions reduction targets would begin to look a lot less achievable. The much vaunted move to vertical integration of rail services should not be allowed to subjugate rail freight’s needs. Equally, the move towards regionalisation potentially poses a significant threat to freight services which tend to be organised on a national rather than a regional basis."

The Rail Freight Group (RFG) which represents most of the major stakeholders concerned with the industry urged caution saying that the Governments plans to develop the HS2 London to Birmingham route should include ensuring freight growth. It points out the 56% uplift of rail borne container traffic since 2003 and asked the Government to make good on previous promises to ensure released paths on the West Coast Main Line are available for freight, develop a high gauge connection between HS2 and HS1 so that niche high speed freight services can use the route in the future and ensure that, prior to the opening of phase 2, freight capacity on the line is not compromised where high speed trains rejoin the existing network. RFG Chairman Tony Berkeley commented:

“We congratulate the Government in standing firm and announcing the go-ahead for this vital transport link. We urge it to press ahead with HS2 with the minimum of delay as a means, not only of delivering much needed capacity on this corridor, but of making a major contribution to reducing the carbon emissions from road freight transport that is can unlock.”

Photo: Harmony CRH-380A the 250mph plus High Speed Chinese train.