The need to invest in UK rail freight is more clear and pressing than ever in the context of the UK’s climate change targets, according to a new report by The House of Commons Transport Committee.
The report said: “We would expect the funding committed to the Strategic Freight Network to be, at the very least, maintained by the government in the next control period. The current proposals to develop the Strategic Freight Network after 2014 should be given a high priority and must be aligned with economic and environmental objectives.”
It highlighted a number of other priorities for investment in the railway network:
a) network enhancements to increase capacity on commuter routes into London and the Manchester Hub;
b) high speed rail;
c) further electrification of the network;
d) additional rolling stock;
e) addressing freight capacity and capability constraints;
f) better access for towns that currently have no direct rail links;
g) improving stations;
h) operational strategy, such as new signalling technologies, and
i) improving integration with other modes of transport.
The Rail Freight Group highlighted the focus on the Manchester Hub and electrifying the Midland Main Line as delivering benefits for freight services and said it was delighted that the committee has recognised the case for ongoing investment in the Strategic Freight Network.
RFG chairman Tony Berkeley said: “We have welcomed the current projects underway now but there is more needed – the capacity upgrade between Felixstowe and Nuneaton, the Joint Line upgrade and more.
“We urge government to include the Committee’s recommendations in its future plans.”
Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail manager said: “Ongoing government support for a reliable versatile rail freight network is crucial, both to secure industry investment and to realise the full benefits of the rail enhancements being carried out now.”