Rail Freight Group urges Great British Railways to go for growth
A nationwide consultation, mounted by the incoming management agency Great British Railways, has been told that freight growth is the key to unlocking a revival of fortunes in the UK rail sector. The Rail Freight Group (RFG) has called for an ambitious target to be set for Great British Railways (GBR) to drive rail freight growth. The call backs up a government mandate to quantify rail freight growth as a critical part of UK economic strategy.
Responding to a call for evidence from the GBR Transition Team, the Rail Freight Group has highlighted the potential for freight growth in the UK. The representative body, whose membership includes around one hundred of the biggest and most influential players in the industry, has highlighted the need for GBR to work with the private sector freight operators and customers to bring more goods to rail.
Private sector can drive growth
The RFG argues that rail freight growth, and by extension overall economic growth can only be achieved if there is a successful partnership between the private sector and government. It says the private sector can drive growth by investing in locomotives and rolling stock to modernise its fleet and to increase capacity.
Despite the short-term economic crisis, made only too apparent this week by the collapse of the pound sterling, the trade body encourages investment in new terminals and handling facilities, with a view to the long-term returns earned by rail infrastructure. They also told the GBRTT that marketing the railway to new and existing freight customers, developing partnerships and providing attractive services were all vital ways to attract new users.
Need for the right partnership
The UK government in London has committed to setting a freight growth target on GBR as a key part of its governance. In its consultation, the GBR Transition Team has sought evidence to support the target, as well as seeking views on how the target should be described. The devolved government in Scotland has already set targets, ahead of any further UK-wide ambitions.
“Our members want to move more of their supply chains onto rail and that will need the right partnership between GBR and the private sector”, said Phil Smart, RFG’s assistant policy manager. “An ambitious growth target will help drive the right behaviours and build confidence in the sector. We look forward to seeing more details of the target from [the UK] government in response to this consultation.”
UK businesses can soon share their stories in a full-colour digital magazine, tailored to the UK rail industry. The RailFreight UK Christmas Special will be published on 15 December. Details, including how to take part, can be found here.