The British International Freight Association (BIFA) welcomes HS2 Chairman Sir David Higgins’ report HS2 Plus, if it helps to increase confidence in the financing, feasibility and benefits of the massive infrastructure project.
BIFA Director General Peter Quantrill says: "Companies that are members of BIFA are regular users of the national rail network to move cargo to and from ports, a trend that has developed over the past ten years.
"Statistics provided to us by the Rail Freight Group (RFG) show that intermodal freight traffic has grown by 60% in the last decade, a trend we think will only continue. A growth rate of 3.3% per annum up to the year 2030 is predicted.
"Much of the discussion has been about the potential saving in time for the passenger between London and Birmingham and Manchester. BIFA is more focused on the opportunities presented to freight operations with the potential release of West Coast Main Line capacity to intermodal trains.
"Rail freight is growing. The present rail system is becoming increasingly overcrowded and reaching a capacity crisis that can only be partially met by measures such as increasing train lengths and improving the existing network.
"The increase in capacity is the single most important argument in favour of developing HS2 and is one that the project’s critics seem reluctant to challenge.
"It becomes all the more important when one considers that, while much UK manufacturing is based in the Midlands, the North and the Central Scottish belt, increasingly volumes of non-EU originating or destined ocean containers are being moved by rail through ports in the South and South East, such as Felixstowe, Tilbury, Southampton, Thamesport and, now, the London Gateway.
Mr Quantrill concludes: "There are environmental impacts to the building of HS2 as well as political repercussions from the decision that may take years to resolve. While the talk continues, the UK faces rail congestion that hurts the country’s bottom-line, and we would urge politicians on all sides of the House to get behind this important project by taking on board the comments of the HS2 Plus report."