Monday, October 27, 2014

Rail Freight Group Welcomes Latest HS2 Report

Warning to Government However not to Neglect Track Borne and Multimodal Cargo
Shipping News Feature

UK – The Rail Freight Group (RFG), which has as its sole raison d’être the development of cargo carried by rail and associated multimodal traffic, has welcomed the publication of Sir David Higgin’s report ‘Rebalancing Britain: from HS2 towards a national transport strategy’, but cautioned that emerging plans need to take full consideration of the significant benefits delivered by rail freight.

The report makes a number of recommendations relating to HS2, including confirmation that Phase 2 of the route would be fast tracked as far as Crewe. This is considered as essential for delivering capacity for additional freight trains, but there are many unresolved details relating to the timetable, and to the impact on freight facilities in the Crewe area which the RFG says must now be addressed. Sir David also proposes significant improvements to the rail services between Manchester and Leeds, and suggests changes to the governance and planning of rail strategy for the region. Maggie Simpson, RFG Executive Director said:

“Rail freight is estimated to support economic output of £862 million across the north of England, serving the large conurbations and supporting the region’s ports and manufacturers. With road congestion affecting freight traffic as well as the private motorist, rail freight needs to be at the heart of any strategy to improve transport links from Liverpool to Hull.

“We support Sir David’s recommendations, and look forward to urgently working with all concerned to ensure that these proposals, particularly as they relate to HS2, are progressed to the benefit of the rail freight sector.”

Sir David Higgin’s first report on HS2 was published in March 2014 and this latest version ‘Rebalancing Britain: from HS2 towards a national transport strategy’ has just been released and both can be read here, whilst in August another organisation devoted to improvements in rail services, Rail North, a conglomeration of thirty or so Local Transport Authorities, published its own observations in a report on Long Term Rail Strategy which can be read here.

Photo: Despite the enthusiasm of the rail lobby there has been a groundswell of objection to HS2 from many parties.