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Threat to rail freight growth defused as Brussels accepts need for ‘flexibility’, says FTA

A threat to the future growth of the UK’s rail freight market has been avoided following news that the EU’s Non-Road Mobile Machinery Directive will allow more flexibility to produce engines.

The Freight Transport Association had lobbied hard in the UK and Brussels to significantly change a Directive which could have left rail freight operating companies in the UK unable to purchase new locomotives, with a disastrous effect on market competition and on accessibility for new market entrants.

While the Directive is still to be officially signed off, the ‘flexibility package’ – which could see a maximum of 16 locomotive engines and a further ten extra engines available just for the UK market – has been written into the agreed text.

Christopher Snelling, FTA’s Head of Supply Chain Policy, said:
"The NRMM had posed a serious threat to rail freight as, in its original form, it would have required new build or re-engined locomotives to be fitted with a power unit that simply wasn’t available. If manufacturers were unable to build these engines to the new standards required in time then this would have surely stymied growth in UK rail freight and acted as a barrier to new entrants.

"While there are still a couple of administrative steps that need to be taken before the NRMM Directive flexibility package becomes law, it looks like our investment in putting our case the UK Government, European Commission and Parliament has paid off."

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