Rail Freight Group reaffirms backing for HS2

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The Rail Freight Group has reaffirmed its strong support for High Speed 2 following press reports over the weekend that chairman Tony Berkeley had said it would  “clog up the rail system”.

An article in “The Daily Telegraph” on Saturday claimed that Berkeley’s criticisms “undermine ministers’ main justification for the scheme”.

In a statement today (16th September) the group said: “The Rail Freight Group  strongly supports the development of HS2, which will provide additional rail capacity, a benefit of the project which is absolutely essential for the future growth of the rail freight sector and to continue to encourage more goods off of the UK’s road network.”

However, the statement went on to argue: “It has become clear that the main parties involved, namely HS2 Ltd, Network Rail and Government need to demonstrate how these benefits will be delivered in practice.”

“It is clearly imperative that Government ensures that the development and operation of the route allows rail freight benefits to be delivered in practice as well as in principle. Although the opening of the route is still many years away, this framework needs to be understood as part of the dialogue around the Hybrid Bill.

And the RFG went to urge DfT, HS2 and Network Rail to work now to ensure that:
* Freight benefits are fully integrated in the case for HS2
* A fair proportion of released capacity is safeguarded for freight
* Capacity is available to meet freight’s reasonable requirements on the existing network after HS2 services re-join the route
* Freight use of the North London Line is not compromised by the HS1/2 connection.

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