Transport secretary Ruth Kelly has promised more than £200 million to start work on a strategic freight network in the Department for Transport’s rail White Paper.
The strategy, Delivering a Sustainable Railway, also allows for potential doubling in capacity over 30 years through continual growth of a rail network.
Kelly said: “Steady investment has given us a rail network which is in good shape for the first time in a generation and this means we can be ambitious for its future. It should be a railway which helps power economic growth and enhances the quality of our lives. We can’t know precisely what our railway will look like in 30 years time but now we can be confident of making it bigger, stronger and more flexible.”
Rail freight operator EWS welcomed the white paper saying it would provide capacity on the rail network to increase rail freight volumes and, in doing so, lower carbon emissions.
EWS said the white paper was also right to demand a “genuinely commercial toll” for freight trains using the Channel Tunnel. Currently tunnel charges are far higher than the market can bear resulting in painfully low traffic volumes.