Government’s “wake-up call” welcomed

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The FTA believes that the EC’s approval of a new intermodal grant mechanism for rail freight is a wake-up call for the Government that rail freight grant funding must be resumed. The new Company Neutral Grant (CNG) scheme was devised over 18 months ago, prior to the Strategic Rail Authority’s (SRA) shock decision to freeze all new rail freight grants in England.

The CNG system is designed to encourage intermodal traffic to go by rail and is intended to replace the existing track access grant scheme. Currently, track access grants are given to rail operators and that money can be used at their own discretion, with customers unable to see where it is being spent. Under the new system not only will it be transparent to the rail user as to how much grant is being given, but also where the money is being used.

The grant will only be paid once the container is moved. What is more, rail freight customers apply for their own grant.

Andrew Traill, FTA head of Rail Freight Policy, says: ‘The Government must resurrect rail grant funding without delay as many companies will seek to take advantage of this valuable incentive to use rail rather than road for their container movements. Rail freight can form a central element of trade flows eliminating the need for long inland journeys by road. Grants can often tip the balance between rail freight being merely an aspiration or a viable commercial reality.

“Shipping lines and ports will be able to make maximum use of this grant to move maritime containers to the heart of the UK, without having to rely on lorries running the gauntlet of a heavily congested road network.”

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