EWS chief Keith Heller has called for a European freight network without national barriers and boundaries.
Delivering the CILT Rail Lecture, he said: “There needs to be an exchange of best practice between European companies and national and international growth with a focus on capturing traffic from road and short sea shipping.”
Heller reckons that rail could take 20 per cent of the domestic surface freight transport market. However, he pointed to a number of areas for improvement.
The UK rail network needed development to meet the wider European gauge, fewer long diversionary routes, the ability to accommodate longer and heavier trains and the removal of bottlenecks.
He also said that the opportunity existed to develop a strong freight link between the UK and the Continent using the new rail line that links St Pancras with the Channel Tunnel.
However, he warned that passenger rail developments such as London’s Crossrail could harm freight capacity.
The CILT Rail Lecture is presented annually in memory of former British Rail Chairman Sir Robert Reid.