Saturday 22nd Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

More rail freight needed to beat climate change

More rail freight terminals are needed if we are to beat Britain’s climate change dilemma, according to the Freight Transport Association, which has set out recommendations for the provision of strategically placed rail freight terminals in the UK.

It says the situation will only worsen if support for rail freight isn’t boosted and has identified the regions that would benefit most from greater rail freight terminals.

Chris MacRae, the FTA’s rail freight policy manager, said: “Without rail freight terminals we do not have a hope of meaningfully reducing the number of lorries on our congested roads.

“Greater rail freight capacity is, quite simply, a pre-requisite if we are to meet the need for moving goods sustainably in the UK. Ignoring this need is akin to asking for more passenger train services without providing platforms for people to stand on.”

The FTA believes that common sense should take precedence in decisions on where to site rail freight interchanges and terminals.

However, despite regular calls from the public for a greater number of goods to be moved off roads and onto rail, proposals to build interchanges are often stopped by local protest, it says.
MacRae continued: “We have worked hard to ensure our strategy is robust and practical. This document will add objectivity to the debate as it assesses purely the ‘need’ for terminal development and will give planning authorities a quantifiable starting point to base their decisions on.

“The government is spending millions upgrading rail lines and retailers and manufacturers are working to adjust their logistics arrangements to incorporate rail.  But none of this will help if the freight cannot get on and off the network at the right place.”

MacRae concluded: “The [newly-formed Infrastructure Planning Commission] IPC recognises the importance of key projects, like rail freight terminals, and the new planning system will speed up this often protracted process. As such, decisions that will benefit the supply chain and its performance will be granted a degree of certainty that has been sorely lacking.”