Rail Freight Group: ‘UK rail freight could grow much more’
The British rail freight industry could grow more than what is currently projected. Among others, more public funding and support policies could encourage increased private investment. This was the conclusion of a new report by Rail Freight Group, the representative body for rail freight in the UK.
An ambitious growth strategy for rail freight in the UK could generate between 75-90 billion British pounds in environmental and economic benefits over the coming decade, the report reads. The study, undertaken by Stephen Joseph Associates, highlights how a new approach from national and local governments, along with continued investment from the industry could significantly unlock growth.
“Higher levels of capital investment and revenue support and other complementary policies supporting an increase in freight transport by rail and in rail’s share of total freight transport. Such an approach would encourage further significant private investment in rail freight services and terminals”, the report reads.
The study suggests several measures to be taken. Investments should be done in the Strategic Freight Network to unlock capacity and improve train efficiencies, as well as in new rail freight services including high speed freight to city centres. Financial support should also take the form of increased grants and access charge discounts, the group suggests.
Other recommendations are the electrification of core routes, promotion of new rail linked facilities and reform of planning law, mainstreaming rail freight in transport and industrial policy and future changes to road pricing to support modal shift.
RFG Director General Maggie Simpson said: “With renewed focus on the environment, and with new trade opportunities on the horizon there has never been a better time to invest in rail freight. This report shows how a strategic and targeted programme from government could encourage new private investment and unlock very significant benefits for the country.”