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Move to night time engineering disruptions

could hurt rail freight FTA. The Freight Transport Association has told the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) that it must ensure the needs of rail freight are not disadvantaged in Network Rail's plans to alter the way it carries out engineering works. The key concern for FTA in this is the plan to move engineering possessions from weekends to weekday nights. Moving away from weekends will benefit passengers, but closing key routes more on weekday nights will hurt freight.

FTA made the call after it responded to the ORR's consultation on Network Rail's new approach to engineering work that will change the number and duration of engineering possessions of lines that make them unavailable for traffic.

The proposal by Network Rail is to implement these changes in the next 'Control Period' from 2009–2014. It is aimed at reducing the disruption to passengers.

Commenting, Chris MacRae, FTA's Rail Freight Policy Manager said, 'While FTA welcomes moves to make the rail network more generally available by more efficient use of engineering possessions, we are very concerned about the negative impact on freight caused by moving to night-time rather than weekend working. Network Rail should concentrate on reducing the length of time it needs to take possession of a track to carry out work. In the move to make the network more available for use and to get back more to seven day availability, it is important that the needs of freight as well as passengers are catered for.

'FTA and its rail freight members will be working closely with ORR to ensure that Network Rail delivers on its commitments. We believe ORR should be setting Network Rail targets to reduce total freight disruption rather than just moving the point of impact of that disruption.'

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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