The government’s decision to push ahead with a high speed rail line to the Midlands and North West (HS2) got a welcome from the Rail Freight Group and a warning from the Freight Transport Association that it must not be allowed to distract from the needs of rail freight.
The RFG said the development of HS2 would provide significant new capacity, freeing up rail paths on the existing network. “
These paths are vital to enable more rail freight, particularly containers, to move between major UK conurbations. Here, container traffic has grown by 56 per cent in the last 8 years, and customers, particularly in the retail sector, are pressing the rail freight industry to take more of their goods by rail, for reliability, price and low carbon reasons.”
But Christopher Snelling, the FTA’s head of supply chain policy, warned: “While HS2 will yield only some indirect benefit to freight it most certainly shouldn’t be introduced at its expense, whether in terms of diverting funding away from other areas or by jeopardising existing freight paths.
“Rail freight demands a fair share of any capacity created by HS2 on the existing network. We must try to support what is not just a growing market, but one without which the UK’s emissions reduction targets would begin to look a lot less achievable.”
RFG chairman Tony Berkeley said: “We congratulate the Government in standing firm and announcing the go-ahead for this vital transport link. We urge it to press ahead with HS2 with the minimum of delay as a means, not only of delivering much needed capacity on this corridor, but of making a major contribution to reducing the carbon emissions from road freight transport that is can unlock.”