£9.4 billion will be invested in the UK’s rail network, including £200 million for the Strategic Freight Network.
Other projects earmarked for funding include reconstruction of Ely North Junction, Capacity upgrades to the West and East Coast Mainline, and electrification in the Great Western line and between Yorkshire and the West Midlands.
Transport secretary Justine Greening said: “These plans to increase capacity and shorten journey times on intercity, commuter and freight services are, alongside our plans for high speed rail, absolutely key to securing our country’s prosperity in the decades ahead.”
According to the Department for Transport High Level Output Specification, the “Electric Spine” corridor of electrification linking Yorkshire and the West Midlands to south coast ports will benefit freight as well as passenger traffic, and will be accompanied by loading gauge enhancement for taller shipping containers.
FTA’s Rail Freight Policy Manager, Chris MacRae, said: “Rail freight has already benefited from an equivalent freight focussed scheme in 2009 to 2014, so it is great that this investment is to continue; this has been a key objective of ours.”
Despite the recession, the latest Office of Rail Regulation figures for the year 2011/12 show total tonne kms up 10 per cent and intermodal freight up 11 per cent on previous year which represents the 9th consecutive year of growth for consumer rail freight.
Philippa Edmunds, manager of Freight on Rail, a partnership between transport trade unions, rail-freight industry, said: “This continued expansion of the rail freight network will stimulate the economy and create green jobs and relieve long distance road congestion.
“Consumer rail freight continues to grow and these upgrades will unlock suppressed demand for long distance rail freight services out of the ports and on key arterial routes.
Rail is well placed to offer reliable long distance services to customers who want a robust cost effective service by a combination of the most appropriate freight modes.”