UK Rail Partners call for a trebling of rail freight
Rail Partners, a representative membership body lobbying for passenger-owning groups and freight companies members, says it can help rebalance and decarbonise a growing UK economy. The association has been responding to a call for evidence from the Great British Railways Transition Team and sets out the need for an ambitious freight growth target to transform the sector over the next three decades.
By trebling freight across Britain, rail could further support the transition to a decarbonised economy, rebalance the UK economy, and help businesses scale up both domestically and internationally. That is the word from Rail Partners in its response to the Great British Railways Transition Team’s freight growth target call for evidence. The target, says Rail Partners, would also increase the sector’s contribution to the UK economy to around 7.5 billion pounds per year (8.9 billion euros).
The largest carbon-emitting sector
Rail Partners, the trade body representing independent passenger and freight operating companies, has set out the necessary policy needed to achieve the more ambitious targets set out in the UK government’s net-zero carbon plans. In the association’s submission, they say that transport is the largest carbon-emitting sector in the UK economy. “Essential action is needed to lower transport emissions now so the UK can meet its commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050”, they say.
According to Rail Partners, and based on rail freight’s economic contribution today, a trebling of rail freight would increase the sector’s contribution to the UK economy and also help to rebalance the economy as 90 per cent of these economic benefits occur outside of London and the South-East. That would also support the government’s “levelling up” agenda to improve the economic output of areas out-with the area around London.
Shift freight off the roads
“The demand for rail freight is already here today”, said Andy Bagnall, Rail Partners Chief Executive. “Customers increasingly look towards rail as a sustainable, cost-effective, and reliable way to get their goods to market. “Setting an ambitious growth target is key, supported by a wider policy framework to shift freight off the roads and onto the rails. Rail freight plays a critical role in the journey to net zero. It removes seven million heavy goods vehicles from the roads each year, saving 1.4 million tonnes of carbon.”
Rail Partners, which includes the big five freight operators, say they exist to make the railway better by harnessing the expertise and creativity of private sector operators. The growth target, overseen by the proposed overarching management agency, Great British Railways, will provide freight operators, customers and third parties with the confidence to make significant investments and infrastructure to ensure freight growth is realised.
“The stretching target to treble rail freight by 2050 should be underpinned by shorter term targets which are aligned with GBR’s five-year funding cycles”, noted Rail Partners in their submission.
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