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FTA stresses importance of rail freight

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has stressed the importance of rail freight following today’s publication of the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) performance review.

The report is critical of Network Rail’s delivery of infrastructure enhancement schemes on Britain’s rail network. FTA says the programmes are vital to increase confidence in rail freight and encourage more shippers to integrate rail into their logistics plans.

Chris MacRae, FTA’s Rail Freight Policy Manager, said: “There is a key investment programme for enhancing rail freight’s use of the network and FTA is highly supportive of Government’s investment here.

“But there are clearly issues in the economic and operational efficiency of the delivery of these schemes and it is important that this is reviewed to ensure best value for money for the taxpayer and the timely usability of these schemes by the freight industry to unlock the potential for more freight by rail.”

The ORR review also looks at train operational performance stating freight train performance as “good”.

Mr MacRae added: “It’s encouraging that rail freight train operational performance is reported as ‘good’ by ORR. However, it is important for shippers to be able to understand what ‘good’ looks like.

“FTA is working with its members who are major shippers with the ability to effect freight modal shift to define what ‘good’ performance looks like for their supply chains. Definition of performance along key corridors and by freight commodity type on a disaggregated basis is key to building shipper confidence in using rail.”

FTA launched its ‘Agenda for More Freight by Rail’ campaign after consulting major rail freight shippers and potential shippers on what needs to be done to increase use of rail freight. FTA’s Rail Freight Council is working with all parts of the rail freight supply chain to help deliver this agenda – this is a key part of the carbon and environmental supply chain agenda.

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