FTA issues rail “suicide” warning

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Major structural changes for the railway industry “would be political and modal suicide,” James Hookham, the Freight Transport Association’s managing director of policy and communications, has warned.

The FTA fears that Sir Roy McNulty’s “Rail Value for Money” study might recommend such major structural changes for the railway industry when its preliminary findings are released in the autumn.

“The McNulty study should instead build on the success of rail freight in recent years and deliver the three outcomes we have identified in our response” said Hookham

Sir Roy was originally due to report in March 2011 but following pressure from transport secretary Philip Hammond, the work has been speeded up so that preliminary findings are ready in time to inform Government decisions on public spending in the autumn.

The FTA is calling on the government to: recognise freight’s importance to the economy; protect rail freight investment; and keep track access charges down.

The FTA has supported public funding via the Strategic Freight Network, but it fears that the impending spending review could see the erosion or removal of this vital source of investment.

Track access charges are another major concern for the FTA as it says freight can’t sustain higher track charges without loss of business to other modes.

Hookham said: “Rail freight already plays a key role in delivering a sustainable supply chain, but with greater investment and a more considered, political approach it can achieve so much more.”


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