Monday, September 12, 2011

Rail Freight Could Solve East Coast Haulage Problems

Twin Call to Government to Upgrade Infrastructure
Shipping News Feature

UK – Felixstowe is the UK’s busiest container port handling over 3 million TEU’s per annum, around 35% of Britain’s box freight and yet the road infrastructure is the subject of constant criticism and with other port developments countrywide underway the Suffolk hub is likely to decline unless improvements are made. Now the country’s leading advocates for increasing the proportion of rail cargo to road haulage have added their weight to the argument.

After a recent plea from the CBI to Government for urgent investment in infrastructure (viewable HERE) the Rail Freight Group (RFG) has supported the call but suggested that, rather than develop toll roads, rail upgrades should be the priority on the A14 corridor. The RFG says a recent survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), done in conjunction with KPMG, found that out of 477 businesses, 58% rated the UK’s infrastructure worse than other EU countries when judged on quality, value for money and reliability and furthermore, only 26% of firms saw the UK as a ‘favourable destination for infrastructure investment’.

Commenting on the statement, RFG pressed for the completion of the upgrade of the Felixstowe to Nuneaton (F2N) route as a cost-effective way of relieving congestion on the A14 for freight moving from the port of Felixstowe, ahead of the privately funded toll road proposed by the CBI, with Maggie Simpson, RFG Policy manager saying:

“The amount of containers moving through Felixstowe by rail is growing all the time, but this could be significantly increased if the route was upgraded to meet modern demands. Plans are expected to be included in the rail industry's planning document due to go to Ministers later this month.

“A cost effective rail scheme must be the priority ahead of major new road infrastructure as a way of delivering a sustainable and efficient transport system in England. Such investment would help decongest not just the A14, but would have a positive knock-on effect to all major connecting motorways.”