Release Date: 15 March 2006
Release ID: 426
Freight on Rail welcomes the announcement today by Rt. Hon. Alistair Darling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, that the Government will produce a rail strategy for the next 20 - 30 years. A national strategy provides the over-arching framework which informs regional and local authority spatial planning, so vital for rail freight. It also demonstrates that the Government is committed to rail freight so that the industry can make long-term decisions to invest.
A national strategy is crucial for rail freight because it sets the context and the overarching policy for regional and local spatial planning. Regional authorities produce Regional Spatial Strategies, statutory documents, which direct regional and local land-use planning policy. Local authorities produce Local Development Frameworks which identify and protect existing and disused sites, lines and sidings with potential as suitable interchange locations.
Freight on Rail campaigner, Philippa Edmunds said, “We have campaigned for a national strategy to provide guidance for regional and local policies. Without the appropriate national, regional and local planning framework, the rail freight industry can neither obtain planning permission to develop new rail freight interchanges nor justify long-term investment to increase freight carried by rail.”
Rail freight is vital to our economy to alleviate congestion and protect the environment and society. Rail has a crucial role to play in the climate change debate; tonne for tonne carried rail produces one tenth of the carbon dioxide emissions of HGVs[i] transport. Simply visualize that an aggregates train can remove 120 HGVs [ii]from our roads to understand that rail freight offers a key alternative mode at a time when Britain's roads are increasingly congested, resulting in longer journey times and more unreliability.
Freight on Rail, a partnership of the rail freight industry, the transport trade unions and Transport 2000, was set up to work with regional and local authorities to get the right spatial planning policies in place.
Rail freight's market share has increased by 60 per cent since 1994 with a level of traffic not seen on the rail network since 1977. Freight operators and their customers are predicting a 30 per cent increase in rail tonnage over the next ten years as traffic soars to 130 million tonnes lifted. The industry has invested over £1.5 billion since 1994.
Freight on Rail members are - EWS, Freightliner, Rail Freight Group, RMT, TSSA, ASLEF, Network Rail and Transport 2000
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