The Rail Freight Group has called the Office of Rail Regulation rethink proposals for a levy on operators moving power station coal, iron ore and spent nuclear fuel, which could amount to an additional £60m year.
The ORR suggests that this could lead to a traffic reduction of at least 10 per cent in those sectors.
Tony Berkeley, RFG chairman, said: “The rail freight sector has been growing successfully in recent years, and customer and investor confidence is strong. These proposals risk destabilising this, and turning customers back to road, with its simple and straightforward pricing structure. Why does the ORR believe that causing a 10 per cent drop in traffic complies with its duty to promote rail freight? ORR needs to look for different ways of achieving its objectives that are less damaging to rail freight operators and their customers”
The proposals are outlined in a recent consultation document ‘Periodic Review 2013; Consultation on the variable usage charge and a freight specific charge’.
In a letter to Richard Price, chief executive of ORR, the RFG said: “We presently have significant concerns that the proposals as set out could have major repercussions for the stability of rail freight, for investor confidence, and for the prospects of continued growth.”