The High Speed 2 project is a critical means of increasing capacity on the rail network, Baroness Susan Kramer, minister of state for transport, told guests at the Rail Freight Group Christmas lunch.
Baroness Susan Kramer
She said HS2 was “desperately needed to relieve congestion” and to ensure the continued growth and success of the sector.
“Rail freight contributes around £870m directly to the economy and £5.9bn overall to the UK’s output.
“Freight moved by rail increased by almost two thirds between 1994 and 2010 and is projected to keep growing even further and we need make sure the capacity is there.
She pointed out that the West Coast mainline already carriers a quarter of all UK rail freight.
“By 2030, overall volumes of rail freight are expected to be around 120 per cent of current levels. That means we simply cannot carry on as before. We need HS2 to carry long-distance passenger traffic which will free up train paths on the existing railway. This is the best way to ensure you are able to continue to offer the reliability, customer service and value-for-money that only rail freight can provide.”
RFG chairman Tony Berkeley highlighted the role of private sector investment in rail freight facilities over the year, citing the new port at London Gateway, investment at Felixstowe and new wagons for the biomass market, as key examples.