Both the Freight Transport Association and the Rail Freight Group have welcomed the government’s publication of the National Policy Statement for National Networks, and its plans for strategic rail freight interchanges.
The government argues that there is a compelling need for development of the road and rail networks to relieve congestion on roads and overcrowding on rail, support local and national economic growth, increase resilience, improve integration between transport modes and improve safety the environment and accessibility.
Chris Welsh, FTA director of global and European policy said: “A welcome key element in this NNNPS is the recognition of the importance of strategic rail freight interchanges to delivering the growth potential of rail freight. This is predicated upon the Freight Market Study produced under Network Rail’s Long Term Planning Process as now established by the Office of Rail Regulation. FTA recognises this as key to achieving modal shift from road, but while we welcome the publication we also believe that this needs to focus on a customer driven agenda for improvement across the rail freight industry.”
Maggie Simpson, RFG executive director, said: “Rail freight is already moving goods worth £30bn each year and we want to see that grow further. By supporting rail freight in the planning system, the government has given confidence to those looking to invest in, and use, new rail linked facilities across the UK.”
The publication of the consultation paper (which can be read here) follows a year-long public consultation on the draft National Networks National Policy Statement (NNNPS), which sets out the needs and government policies for nationally significant infrastructure rail and road projects for England.
The consultation, which ran for 12 weeks from December 2013, sought and received answers to nine questions from 5,800 respondents. Local authorities, environmental groups, road and rail user groups, and transport groups were among the respondents.