The Freight Transport Association has welcomed the announcement by Rail Minister Tom Harris on 29 October of the funding for additional freight enhancements via the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF).
The biggest of these schemes is £80 million for gauge enhancement of the Peterborough to Nuneaton route. This will allow the increasing numbers of larger 9' 6″ containers to have an alternative route from the developing Felixstowe port to the distribution centres of the West Midlands and beyond, avoiding this traffic having to cross London.
The other announcement of substantial funding is for an additional £42 million for similar gauge clearance for larger container boxes from Southampton port to the West Midlands.
It is not all about containers, though, as there is funding for infrastructure enhancements to allow increasing bulk imports of coal from Humber ports to access the power stations of the Aire and Trent Valley.
Commenting, Chris MacRae, FTA's Rail Freight Policy Manager said, 'This extra funding really is welcome. FTA has been calling for the Government to invest in improvements to the inland connections from our ports, and this was also identified by the Eddington Report as a priority. So it is great to see the Government helping rail freight to achieve its potential in the UK's supply chain.
'These investments will allow more rail freight to move from the UK's ports at a price competitive with road, improving the quality of our international supply and reducing its environmental impact.
'Together with the funding that the Government announced in July for the Gospel Oak to Barking gauge clearance, this all starts to realise the concept of a Strategic Freight Network that the Government committed itself to in its July Rail White Paper for development with industry. FTA is part of that process.
'It is also great to see Network Rail being so pro-active in developing these proposals for Government funding with industry partners.'
1. The £80 million for the Peterborough-Nuneaton route will fund enhancement works to clear the line to W10 gauge. This will enable the route to carry 9' 6″ high cube containers, which otherwise require specialist rail wagons or have to be carried by road. The scheme will improve access to Felixstowe port and will provide an alternative route to the West Coast Main Line, bypassing London. The scheme also provides funding for a new east to north chord at Nuneaton, allowing trains to continue northwards without conflicting with the West Coast Main Line, subject to legal consent.
2. The £42.83 million grant for the Southampton to the West Coast Main Line route will also enable W10 gauge clearance for high cube containers. The scheme will allow existing freight capacity to be used more efficiently. Works will take place on three sections, between Southampton and Leamington Spa via Basingstoke and Reading; between Leamington and Nuneaton; and between Leamington and Birmingham.
3. The Humber Ports schemes will provide additional capacity for bulk imports from the East Coast, including the import of coal to power stations in the Aire and Trent Valleys.
4. The gauge enhancement scheme for two routes from the Port of Liverpool to the West Coast Main Line will include the reinstallation of the 300 metre Mount Olive Chord and works on the branch to Liverpool docks.
5. The DfT announced £18.5 million productivity TIF funding for the Gospel Oak to Barking line in July this year. The DfT also announced almost £45 million of grants earlier this year to support the transport of freight by rail which would otherwise be carried on the roads.
6. These awards are in addition to the £200 million announced by DfT in this summer's 'Delivering a Sustainable Railway' White Paper for the development of a Strategic Freight Network.
The Freight Transport Association represents the transport interests of companies moving goods by rail, road, sea and air. FTA members consign over 90 per cent of the freight moved by rail and over 70 per cent of sea and air freight. They also operate over 200,000 goods vehicles – almost half the UK fleet.