The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK (CILT(UK)), the leading professional body for logistics and transport professionals, has expressed its disappointment at the decision not to proceed in full with HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. It is also deeply concerned at the absence of critical information in Government’s much delayed Integrated Plan for Rail.
CILT says that deferment of the Eastern leg of HS2 and NPR east of the Pennines, if unavoidable, is acceptable – cancellation is not. It is crucial that these options are preserved for the future, when a fully decarbonised transport system with sufficient capacity for all main traffic flows will be essential.
Daniel Parker-Klein, Director of Policy and Communications at CILT(UK) says, “We understand that money is tight and the investments proposed are welcome, but Government must not lose sight of the Decarbonisation imperative. Lead times of such major projects make it essential that planning for the full implementation of HS2 and NPR should continue and the ability to construct the routes be preserved. Full implementation of the two projects would create capacity for modal switch of freight and passengers to rail, which is essential if targets for reducing CO2 are to be met.’
Kevin Richardson, Chief Executive at CILT says, “HS2 and NPR have always been as much about releasing capacity on existing routes for other services as speed. This is particularly true of freight, which has already returned to pre-Covid levels and is growing rapidly as companies seek to alleviate the HGV driver crisis and to decarbonise their supply chains by increasing their use of rail. In the absence of the NPR and HS2 route sections that are no longer to be built, alternative ways of enabling this modal switch are essential.”
CILT welcomes the creation of a new line from Warrington through Manchester to Marsden, with capacity for freight provided in the Trans-Pennine Route Upgrade (TRU), but is seeking urgent confirmation that the freight element of TRU will include gauge clearance to the full ‘W12’ standard, not merely the much smaller ‘W8a’ gauge that has been proposed thus far. This is critical to reducing congestion on the M62 and M60 – for passenger traffic as well as freight – since up to 1000 HGV loads per day could be shifted onto rail, saving approximately 300,000 tonnes of C02 a year and freeing up the UK’s vital HGV driver resource for other journeys (the M62 is the third busiest road freight corridor in GB, with more than 7 million truck movements pa). W12 gauge is needed now and is essential if the potential of Freeports on the Mersey, Humber and Tees is to be realised. Delivery by 2024/5 at latest is needed and current proposals to undertake the necessary work in 2030 is completely unacceptable to freight customers.
The Institute is also deeply concerned about the lack of clarity surrounding the HS2 ‘Golborne Link’ and considers it essential that this link – or something better – is included in the IRP. Not to do so would cause intolerable congestion for passengers and freight users on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) north of Crewe, which would endanger Union Connectivity with Scotland and Northern Ireland – for which the WCML is crucial.
Building a high-speed line to the East Midlands, upgrading of the East Coast Main Line (ECML) and electrification of the Midland Main Line (MML) is welcome, but CILT believes inadequate provision for freight and logistics is made in the IRP and says urgent delivery of the following is needed:
- Electrification of the key freight route from Peterborough to Doncaster via Lincoln, as this route provides the link from Felixstowe and London Gateway to businesses in Yorkshire and the North East, and there will very limited capacity for freight on the electrified 140mph ECML
- Upgrading and electrification of the route from Northallerton to Teesside and Ferryhill (the Stillington route) to provide adequate capacity for freight to the North East and Scotland via the ECML
- Electrification north from Corby to Doncaster and through the Hope Valley to complement electrification of the Midland Main Line from Kettering to Sheffield, which will enhance passenger services but do little or nothing for freight.
In addition, the lack of clarity about the route from Leeds to Sheffield must be resolved as a matter of urgency, since there is serious risk of ‘planning blight’ inhibiting other much-needed enhancements in the area. The chosen solution needs to be clear on how it will address the needs of local travellers in West and South Yorkshire as well as longer distance passengers, for whom journey times to the Midlands and the South West are wholly inadequate. The road alternative, using the M42/A42 is heavily congested, as well as being carbon-unfriendly.
Similarly, whilst electrification from Bradford to Leeds is welcome, it does little for connectivity between Bradford and Manchester. There is potential for creating greater congestion at Leeds if the fastest journeys have to travel via that city. CILT recommends the introduction of an express service on the Calder Valley route calling only at Halifax and Rochdale, with a target journey time of under 40 minutes, to address this issue.