Release Date:
Release ID: 1199

Network Rail recognises the need to plan for growth – when will the Government do so?

RFG welcomes the announcement by Network Rail (24 June 2008) that it plans to investigate five or six routes for high speed lines or other means of increasing capacity on the network.

Press Release

These routes suggested (ECML, WCML, GW to Bristol, Midland Main Line to Sheffield and the Chiltern route to Birmingham) all radiate from London, where much of the demand is centred. However, we suspect that some of the cross-Country and Trans Pennine routes should be studied as well, since these are also showing significant growth and congestion.

For rail freight, we are agnostic as to whether passengers travel at TGV or Intercity speeds; for us the importance is to free up capacity for freight, where volumes are expected to double overall in twenty years. Some traffic, such as containers and other intermodal units, is expected to treble by 2030.

The RFG/FTA Traffic forecasts indicate that this growth, even without any increase in passenger traffic, will mean that, on the West Coast Main Line, demand will exceed supply of capacity by around 70 trains a day. Similar problem are identified on other major route between centres or population and with ports.

RFG Chairman Tony Berkeley said we welcome Network Rails initiative in taking forward work on meeting the longer term challenges of growth in demand. These forecasts take no account of possible additional growth in demand for rail freight due to high oil prices, about which BERR appears to be uncertain.

On the experience of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and Crossrail, it takes 20 + years to build new lines, Network Rail is right to start the process off now. We will wish to work with them particularly on freight issues and we look forward to putting with others an industry view to Government about what needs to be done to meet these demands for passenger and freight traffic.


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