Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Modal Shift Prompts Multi Million Pound Investment in Rail Freight

Scottish Government Funds Move from Road Haulage
Shipping News Feature
UK – The Scottish Government has announced it has allocated £25 million to strengthen the country's rail freight industry over the next five years. The fund is open to rail freight industry partners, including Network Rail and Transport Scotland, to table proposals for improvements which meet freight modal shift objectives, particularly that of moving goods away from road haulage.

Innovative proposals which meet strategic objectives without costly infrastructure upgrades, for example wagons/locomotives or other interventions, are also welcome. In announcing the funding commitment, during a visit to the Freightliner Terminal in Coatbridge, Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said:

“This Government has a strong track record of support for rail freight which we are committed to taking forward over the next five year funding period. We know that rail freight and modal shift to rail reduces road congestion, improves air quality, and reduces emissions.

“Rail freight services are vital to sustainable economic growth across Scotland. This fund will support the development and delivery of strategic rail freight projects which improve capacity and capability. It aims to build on and complement our existing and future investment in Scotland’s railways.

“Working with Network Rail, we are also encouraging a sharper business-focus and setting challenging but achievable regulatory targets for freight in terms of average speed, performance and growth.”

The Fund will be administered by Transport Scotland and a new Scottish Rail Freight Forum will be established including members from across the industry. A statement said all work will be commissioned in a way that best secures value for money.

Both the Rail Freight Group (RFG) and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) have welcomed the news of the funding with Maggie Simpson, Director General of the Rail Freight Group, saying:

"This commitment from Scottish Government is welcome news for the rail freight industry and will allow vital upgrades to Scotland’s railways, unlocking capacity and capability for new services. This is good news for freight customers, for the Scottish economy and for the environment."

The FTA further added if used wisely, the funding will unlock new capacity and capabilities, providing a much-needed boost to the country’s rail infrastructure. Margaret Simpson, Head of Policy for Scotland & Northern England at FTA, continued:

“We are also pleased the Government has chosen to work closely with esteemed industry partners; a promising sign that the investment will be spent where it is needed most. The FTA is calling on both the Government and the industry partners to recognise how different sectors, for example bulk freight, could benefit from the funding to make rail a more available option of businesses of varying shapes and sizes.

“While the FTA supports the Government’s ambition to increase rail use, it is important it realises that rail is not the most appropriate mode for all. Road will undoubtedly remain the prominent mode of freight transport, but where it possible, the use of rail should be encouraged to help to reduce road congestion and emissions.”