Network Rail’s plans to minimise passenger disruption by carrying out engineering works on weekday nights rather than weekends could hurt the rail freight industry as key routes will be more frequently closed.
The FTA has warned the Office of Rail Regulation that it needs to ensure the industry is not “disadvantaged” by the move and to take into account the needs of freight as well as passengers.
Chris MacRae, rail freight policy manager at the FTA, said, “While FTA welcomes moves to make the rail network more generally available by more efficient use of engineering possessions, we are very concerned about the negative impact on freight caused by moving to night-time rather than weekend working.
“Network Rail should concentrate on reducing the length of time it needs to take possession of a track to carry out work. In the move to make the network more available for use and to get back more to seven day availability it is important that the needs of freight as well as passengers are catered for.
“FTA and its rail freight members will be working closely with ORR to ensure that Network Rail delivers on its commitments. We believe ORR should be setting Network Rail targets to reduce total freight disruption rather than just moving the point of impact of that disruption.”
The proposed changes, if accepted, would come into affect during the next control period from 2009 – 2014.