Long distance rail freight services could be threatened by proposals in the report on railway infrastructure produced by Nicola Shaw for the government, the Freight Transport Association.
The report on the future funding and structure of Network Rail proposes that routes should have more autonomy and some could be hived off as long-term concessions.
However, the FTA said it was concerned about the potential implications of such major structural change for long distance freight services operating throughout Britain across Network Rail route borders.
Rail freight policy manager Chris MacRae, said: “FTA believes a strong central System Operator (SO) is essential for access planning and pathing across the network, plus high-level control to manage diversions at times of line closure. Without this, Rail Freight Operating Companies (FOCs) will have to negotiate for paths with each and every route and attempt to stitch together an end-to-end service for the customer – the scope for delay, cost and inability to grow rail freight is all too apparent.”
“The outcome of the Shaw Report must be a strong central System Operator (SO), avoiding a situation where the UK’s key supply chains are endangered. For example, container trains from the main British gateway ports of Felixstowe and Southampton to the West Midlands Distribution Centres, North of England and Scotland, or aggregates traffic from Leicestershire and the Mendips to the rest of Britain, and Anglo-Scottish intermodal trains carrying consumer goods.”