Britain’s climate change dilemma will worsen without support for more strategically-sited rail freight terminals, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which has set out its recommendations for the provision of rail freight terminals in the UK. The FTA briefing identifies those regions that would benefit most from greater rail freight terminals, and FTA hopes developers and planners alike will take heed.
Chris MacRae, FTA’s Rail Freight Policy Manager, said:
"Without rail freight terminals we do not have a hope of meaningfully reducing the number of lorries on our congested roads. Greater rail freight capacity is, quite simply, a pre-requisite if we are to meet the need for moving goods sustainably in the UK. Ignoring this need is akin to asking for more passenger train services without providing platforms for people to stand on."
FTA believes that common sense should take precedence in decisions on where to site rail freight interchanges and terminals. However, despite regular calls from the public for a greater number of goods to be moved off roads and onto rail, proposals to build interchanges are often stopped by local protest.
"We have worked hard to ensure our strategy is robust and practical. This document will add objectivity to the debate as it assesses purely the ‘need’ for terminal development and will give planning authorities a quantifiable starting point to base their decisions on.
"The Government is spending millions upgrading rail lines, and retailers and manufacturers are working to adjust their logistics arrangements to incorporate rail. But none of this will help if the freight cannot get on and off the network at the right place."
FTA is optimistic that the newly-formed Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) will help the right decisions to be made when it comes to new rail freight terminals.
"The IPC recognises the importance of key projects, like rail freight terminals, and the new planning system will speed up this often protracted process. As such, decisions that will benefit the supply chain and its performance will be granted a degree of certainty that has been sorely lacking."