Saturday 1st Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Anger as rail grants are axed

News that the government is axing grants for rail freight has been greeted with dismay and anger by industry groups.

Freight Facilities Grants were first introduced in 1974 and have played an important role in funding rail infrastructure projects that enable goods to be moved from road to rail.

Maggie Simpson, policy manager at the Rail Freight Group, said: “This government has previously stated its commitment to reducing UK carbon emissions and supporting smaller businesses to invest. This decision makes a mockery of those promises.”

And Christopher Snelling, the Freight Transport Association’s head of global supply chain policy, said: “Failing to fund modal shift is effectively a failure to invest in a more carbon-efficient, let alone more cost-effective, supply chain.  All three major parties at Westminster have previously spoken of a commitment to greener transport choices, with warm words about the importance of rail freight.  Sadly, this announcement suggests that warm words is all they were.

“While revenue support grants remain, the loss of the facilities grant will make it less desirable and more cost prohibitive to invest in the sort of machinery and technology, like cranes and other freight handling equipment, needed to make rail and water borne freight a reality for companies currently focusing solely on road freight.”

The Rail Freight Group said it would now be seeking urgent talks with the DfT to determine a way forwards for its members. 

The Scottish government has also set out plans to cut rail freight grants, although it appears that the issue might be looked at again.