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FTA welcomes goverment commitment to double use of rail freight

The Freight Transport Association has welcomed the commitment by the Government to plan for a doubling of rail freight traffic by 2030 and to the development of a Strategic Freight Network. The policies emerged in the Rail White Paper and the associated English and Welsh High Level Output Specification published by the Department for Transport. There will be a budget of £200 million for spending between now and 2014 on developing rail freight projects.

FTA's Rail Freight Policy Manager Chris MacRae said, 'This is a good ambition for the Government to set, and demonstrates the capacity of the rail network to ease the burden on our congested roads and provide real environmental and economic benefits.

'The immediate funding of £200 million over the next five year control period is good news and should provide a substantial increase in the freight capacity of the network. However, it should be noted that £200 million, while very welcome, is less than two per cent of the £10 billion that Government is committing to spend on enhancing capacity over the whole railway network in that period.

'It is less clear at this stage what the proposed Strategic Freight Network will mean in practice. This could be a very useful initiative but will need to be a practical development, not just a new label on existing or refined capacity. FTA will want to work with the Government to make sure that there is real progress.'

FTA also welcomed the White Paper's acknowledgement of the need to take a holistic approach to the UK's transport needs, taking into consideration all possible modes of transport together rather than just assessing a single mode. The need for this was set out in the Eddington Report, and FTA is pleased that the Government has said it will address issues in a multi-modal fashion in the future.

The White Paper reiterates the immediate areas for developing freight infrastructure capacity as identified in Network Rail's Freight Route Utilisation Strategy and the Transport Innovation Fund bids. To build on this, FTA has produced a briefing paper setting out industry's needs for future rail freight infrastructure. This can be accessed at the following link:

Click to access funding_england.pdf

The Department for Transport has separately announced funding from the Transport Innovation Fund for the Gospel Oak to Barking diversionary freight route enhancement, and Freight Facilities Grant funding for a range of rail facility connections, as well as environmental support for modal retention to rail of some freight flows under the Rail Environmental Benefits Procurement Scheme. The total is £20 million. However, FTA points out that, while welcome, the disparate nature of this funding and its processes do not always make it easy for companies planning to use rail to be certain of future funding. This issue is highlighted in FTA's Rail Freight Infrastructure Funding document, available at: http://www.fta.co.uk/information/keycampaigns/railcampaign/rail_funding.pdf

The Rail White Paper and HLOS are available at:
http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/whitepapers/whitepapercm7176/whitepapersustainablerailway1

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 200,000 goods vehicles – almost half the UK fleet.

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