Monday, November 16, 2009

FTA Calls For Infrastructure Overhaul As UK Shippers Turn To Rail Freight

Traditional Road Haulage Lobbyists Recognise Multi Modal Systems as Essential whilst Britvic Switch
Shipping News Feature

UK – The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has nailed its colours to the mast with regard to the future of rail freight in Great Britain. On the same day they announced support for a new ports strategy, the organisation spoke out at a meeting of the National Assembly for Wales' Enterprise and Learning Committee to lay down the requirements for improved inter modal goods carriage in the province.

The comments, made during submissions by the FTA’s Head of Policy for Wales, Stephen Kelly and their Head of Global Supply Chain Policy, Christopher Snelling, to the “Future Railway Infrastructure in Wales” inquiry, can be extrapolated to much of the rest of the UK as a whole. In speeches bearing direct relevance to rail policy in Britain, the two commented on the need for more freight handling terminals, greater load capacities, and, where necessary, wider gauge rail systems to enable seamless on carriage from rail cars to trucks and vice versa.

The need for a universal gauge track system was the most immediate requirement. This alone would mean freight containers from places like Port Talbot could move immediately into the mainline system. Mr Snelling pointed out ,

 “…we are not talking about investing in an expensive high-speed line here, freight has no need for one. We are talking about relatively small, practical changes that, if applied correctly, will look like small beer compared to the environmental and business benefits rail freight delivers.”

One of the main sticking points to development of rail infrastructure anywhere would always be the strength of local opposition. The representatives pointed out the necessity to educate local people by pointing out the number of lorries taken off the roads by rail services and the guaranteed saving of fuel and consequently carbon and other emissions.

The speeches came in the same week Britvic UK, the drinks manufacturer announced their intention to switch the transfer of a million bottles of beverages from road to rail. The drinks, which currently travel from the Midlands to Scotland, will now be re-routed by supply chain specialists Wincanton and Malcolm’s Logistics from six originating plants between Beckton and Huddersfield through a consolidation hub at Daventry and on by rail to Grangemouth and Mossend.

Just last month Britvic reduced the glass in each J20 bottle by 20 grammes saving circa 4000 tonnes of glass per annum, the equivalent of 20 million bottles a year, with consequential manufacturing energy reductions and fuel savings. This switch to rail will mean a reduction of 50 lorry loads per day, equal to almost 3,300 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide emissions a year.