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Freight customers suffer in railway engineering disruptions

The Freight Transport Association has today welcomed the publication of the Office of Rail Regulation's report into Network Rail's handling of the engineering overruns at New Year 2008. FTA said that it is important to remember that freight services as well as passengers suffered severe disruption due to the engineering overruns at Rugby, London Liverpool Street and Glasgow Shields Junction.

James Hookham, FTA Policy Director said, 'The engineering disruption due to the unplanned overruns at New Year really were bad news for all concerned, and this included significant freight flows. Rail freight users were forced to switch to road based services for the duration of the disruption. At a time when we are trying to get new customers to use rail services for the first time, particularly in the retail sector, this was very unfortunate. Potential rail users will need to be reassured that such a disruption will not occur again, if they are to put their trust in rail.

'FTA is satisfied that the outcome of this event is that Network Rail has learnt the lessons and will be making significant changes to future work in order to prevent a reoccurrence. The focus must be on the bigger picture, delivering a bigger, better railway for the future.

'FTA's Freight Future project in 2006 demonstrated that UK rail freight growth has been amongst the highest in the EU. Rail will continue to play a prominent role in moving containers to and from ports, together with an increasing demand from many sectors of industry seeking to reduce their use of congested road networks. However, industry needs to be confident that rail freight can deliver not only the capacity for increased traffic, but reliable and predictable journey times. As such the creation of adequate diversionary capability to deal with both planned and unplanned engineering disruption is absolutely vital.'

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 220,000 goods vehicles on road – almost half the UK fleet. The main UK rail freight operating companies belong to FTA as do the major global logistics service providers operating in the European and UK markets.

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