Northern Powerhouse

27.08.19

Rail Freight Group’s Maggie Simpson on supply chain opportunities, Digital Railway, and HS2

Rail freight is vital to Britain’s economic success. Contributing £1.7bn to the economy, it is a vibrant, growing sector. As Director of the Rail Freight Group, Maggie Simpson, plays a key part in ensuring the voices of Rail Freight Group members are heard.

Maggie joins us to discuss how freight is playing a significant role in the construction of HS2, the supply chain opportunities available and how she is working with other sectors within the industry to ensure rail freight is a key part of the northern transport network.

Maggie will join, Peter Molyneux, Major Roads Director, Transport for the North Tim Morris, Chief Executive Officer, UK Major Ports Group and Dan Fell, Chief Executive, Doncaster Chamber of Commerce, on an INDUSTRY FIRST Rail, Road, Sea and Air Panel discussion this October at TransCityRail North 2019.

 As RFG Director, how do you ensure government and rail industry policy supports the growth of rail freight?

At RFG we campaign for more goods to be moved by rail, and for a policy environment which supports that growth.  When this leads to new services and investment in new equipment, terminals and technology; this benefits businesses across the sector.

The passenger railway tends to dominate policy - the RFG works to make sure that freight is remembered as a key part of that story.  The voice of our members, as businesses who rely on rail freight, is key in getting that message across.

In the recent National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) report, ‘Better Delivery: The Challenge for Freight’, published in April 2019, part of the strategy was to enable rail freight to reach zero emissions by 2020. Can you tell us more about this, and the potential opportunities for the supply chain?

All parts of the industry need to look at reducing and eliminating carbon emissions by 2050, and rail freight is no exception.  Today, rail is acknowledged as a low carbon choice, producing 76% less carbon dioxide than the equivalent journey by road, and we need to ensure that we can continue to improve on this.  There are various research programmes underway, and we are keen to support the case for renewed investment in rail electrification.

‘HS2 is an important project for the UK railway, and the freight sector continues to support its development’ - can you describe how HS2 might impact the rail freight industry and supply chain?

Rail freight will have a significant role to play in the construction of HS2, both for outbound construction spoil and inbound materials.  The supply chain will need to support these operations with new equipment and resources.  We also need to make sure that there is sufficient rail capacity to deliver the necessary train services.

How will digital railway influence the freight industry? 

There is excellent progress in establishing how freight locomotives will be fitted with the right equipment for digital signalling.  It is important that the plans for digital railway include freight as a fundamental part of our network in the planning and funding of the first round of projects.

This October you are participating in the TransCityRail North Road, Rail, Sea & Air Leaders Debate. How important is it for different sectors to come together at major networking events, and spread knowledge to other industry executives?

The transport system works as a whole – rail freight relies on ports and road freight and vice versa.  Yet, policy is often made in a vacuum; rather than looking at the overall objective of moving goods-

working with other sectors is critical to making the case for rail as part of modern logistics.

Rail freight is a vibrant, growing sector, and needs to be a key part of the northern transport network and their business plans.

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   28/08/2019 at 04:41

   28/08/2019 at 04:41

   28/08/2019 at 04:42

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TransCityRail North 2019