Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rail Freight Representatives Debate Cross Channel Cargo Development

New Services and Infrastructure Required
Shipping News Feature

UK – FRANCE – EUROPE – Following the announcement that Europorte is to operate a new service between Barking and Dourges on behalf of John G. Russell, members of the Rail Freight Group (RFG) debated the opportunities and challenges to develop more track carried cross-Channel cargo and nominated certain changes they believe are necessary to progress.

The RFG welcomed the current upturn in traffic levels, which it says has been supported by Eurotunnel’s decision to reduce tolls, the overall economic recovery and for many services, the superior loading gauge on HS1. The organisation however believes there are still a number of hurdles to be cleared before real progress can be made in expanding the industry.

Barking in Essex is a case in point, to develop throughput the RFG says there needs to be an increase in terminal capacity, and this also applies elsewhere throughout parts of the system. The UK network itself is still physically restricted and this should be addressed along with measures to improve efficiency and increase both train loading and capacity.

New markets could be opened up with the introduction of innovative services, such as piggyback and finally there needs to be a positive response to the impact of the EU Sulphur directive in 2015 which is likely to increase costs for cross channel ferries and create potential for rail operators. Maggie Simpson, RFG’s Executive Director, said:

“The cross-Channel market is showing early signs of recovering after a decade of under-performance. We now need to work together as an industry to address the remaining barriers to trade and help rail freight to meet its true potential.”