Thursday, March 24, 2016

Welsh Rail Report Received Favourably by Freight Sector Stakeholders

RFG Welcomes Recommendations from Enterprise and Business Committee
Shipping News Feature
WALES – For a country without a single kilometre of electrified rail track, a rarity anywhere in Western Europe, the report just issued by the Welsh National Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee has a special relevance. The report is a rallying cry to stakeholders to ensure all voices are heard at a time when infrastructure improvement funds are likely to resemble hens’ teeth. The report calls for an ‘absolute assurance’ from central government that electrification of the South Wales Mainline will continue as a single project, without a break, all the way to Swansea whilst the North and South Wales main lines, including relief lines, should be upgraded to the largest loading gauge for freight containers (W12) as early as possible.

It goes on to recommend that Network Rail should retain a central freight unit to ensure that freight continues to have the type of engagement it needs with the organisation. Welsh Government should work with this unit, the Wales route and freight operators to identify the priority investments required to improve cargo services in Wales and work to ensure these are delivered whilst also recognising, and pressing the importance to freight services of full electrification of the Vale of Glamorgan line, and insisting that it should be funded by UK Government.

The full report is viewable here and the Rail Freight Group (RFG), which submitted written evidence to the Committee and supplemented this with oral evidence during the hearings held in Wrexham, have expressed satisfaction with the report saying that many of the points it made and the issues it raised have clearly been considered by the Committee when framing its recommendations. Robin Smith, RFG’s Welsh Representative, said:

“Moving more goods by rail can deliver economic and environmental benefits for Wales, and we are pleased that the Committee has recognised this in their report. Action to upgrade infrastructure is vital, and developing effective working relationships with Network Rail. Welsh Government and freight shippers in an increasingly devolved world is essential. This report highlights how this can be delivered and we welcome it.”

Photo: The steam locomotive graveyard at Barry, now long gone.