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Freight at last the F word is on the agenda

IMPROVEMENTS TO M6 AND WEST COAST MAIN LINE AMONGST KEY NEEDS.
The Freight Transport Association has welcomed the publication of the West Midlands Regional Freight Strategy which seeks to support national and regional objectives for the sustainable, economic and efficient movement of goods within, to and from the region. The Strategy has been created by the West Midlands Regional Assembly and includes proposals for increased investment in road and rail, improved journey times and reliability for lorry movements, better signage, parking and routing, and improved encouragement and training to attract personnel into the industry.

FTA's Head of Policy for the Midlands, Wales and the South West, Stephen Kelly says, 'The West Midlands is home to more than five million people and is at the very heart of the nation's strategic road and rail network, which is already subject to considerable delays and capacity constraints. The sustainable distribution of freight through and within the West Midlands is of vital importance.

'The new freight strategy will not only underpin the development and maintenance of an integrated, efficient and sustainable freight policy in the region, but will also stimulate economic growth and increase inward investment. The West Midlands has some of the most congested road and rail routes in the country and yet millions of tonnes of goods have to be delivered in, or moved through, the region each day. Without immediate investment in regional infrastructure, transport and economic growth will grind to a halt and the region will face total gridlock.

'Improvements to the M6 to the north of the region are an absolute priority. It is undoubtedly the key freight route for both the nation and the region. But increasing congestion is prohibiting the movement of goods from the West Midlands and beyond. Improvements to the West Coast Main Line and the upgrade of rail freight routes to the ports of Felixstowe and Southampton are essential to accommodate the forecast increase in the movement of container traffic by rail.

'The West Midlands Regional Freight Strategy is a key milestone in transport planning and development as it draws priorities from parties across all modes of freight transport needing and influencing the development of local and regional infrastructure. The strategy will assist in the promotion of sustainable development by maximising the use of existing infrastructure. And, more importantly, it will identify and implement selective improvements where necessary in order to facilitate the movement of freight.

'The 'F' word, freight, is finally being recognised as essential in stimulating economic growth in the West Midlands and the joined up thinking provided by the Strategy is good news for all of those consigning or receiving the movement of goods – that means just about all of us.'

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