Thursday, March 8, 2012

Report Boost for Switch from Road Haulage - Strategic Rail Freight Exchanges Supported

Train Operators Welcome Government View
Shipping News Feature

UK – Even more rail freight news, today the Government published its Command Paper: ‘Reforming our Railways: Putting the Customer First’, designed to set out how the authorities see rail freight and passenger development progressing and the policies they propose to make the UK rail network profitable and therefore sustainable in the long term. The report can be downloaded in its entirety HERE.

The report points out that rail freight carriage has expanded by 60% over the last decade, and expects to grow by a further 30% in the five years from 2014. The congestion and environmental harm from transferring such traffic to road would be enormous, and there would be significant road safety concerns as well. The fierce competition in the logistics market makes for a strong case for Government to continue providing support for the rail freight industry as not all the external costs of road freight are paid by users of the road network.

The report finds that rail freight has by necessity done better than other sectors in finding significant efficiencies in recent years and therefore will consider investing further in the Strategic Freight Network, both to help make best use of the existing network and, by increasing its freight capability, to leverage continued private sector investment in rail freight growth.

The Government says it will provide a clear planning policy framework to support further private sector investment in rail freight terminals and rail-connected distribution parks, including Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges and continue to provide support through the mode shift revenue support scheme to shift freight from road to rail where there are overall environmental and social benefits from doing so. In return freight carriers will be expected to continue to pursue cost savings wherever possible in order to give a better service.

The rail cargo carriers view the Command Paper as necessary to reiterate the value of the transport system as an engine for economic growth and the valuable wider benefits that they believe rail freight delivers, including environmental benefits. Commenting immediately upon release of the Report Peter Maybury, Chief Executive, Freightliner Group Limited said:

“We are pleased that the Government recognises that rail freight is a key enabler in supporting UK business and can contribute to economic growth whilst at the same time relieving road congestion and reducing carbon. The investments in the Strategic Freight Network to date have made a real impact on our business enabling hundreds of containers per day to move by rail instead of on the UK’s congested road network and we welcome the plans to continue delivery of the Strategic Freight Network, particularly initiatives to increase capacity on the rail network.

“As a member of the Rail Delivery Group I recognise the challenge of reducing the costs of the UK Railway system and I know that Network Rail and all the operators, including Freightliner, are keen to play their part and drive through efficiencies. The announcements made today will help to free up some of the constraints that were proving challenging in driving cost reductions and will provide continued impetus. As an independent company that operates and competes wholly in the broader transportation and logistics market we have to continually drive efficiencies through our business and hope we can play our part in contributing to reducing the unit costs of the whole railway system.”