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10.08.12

Aslef strikes out at ORR freight charge proposals

Increased charges for rail freight would be “grossly unjust”, the train drivers union Aslef has stated. The ORR is consulting on proposed changes to rail freight.

The ORR states that the new charge would ensure that freight covers all costs that would have been avoided if rail freight had not used the infrastructure. 

General secretary Mick Whelan said: “Rail freight...is already subject to seven separate charges. It also pays on the basis of distance travelled, a concept that is constantly rejected for road. At the very least the goal posts should be the same width. 

“It is grossly unjust that this formula is applied to rail but not to lorries on roads. There is evidence that lorries are up to 160,000 times more damaging to roads than the average car and that Heavy Goods Vehicles only pay between one to two thirds of the costs they impose on society. So the taxpayer effectively subsidises road haulage and offers rail freight nothing. 

“This flies in the face of government commitments to the environment. Rail freight is central to delivering their targets as rail freight produces 70% less carbon dioxide than road haulage and currently takes 6.7 million road journeys a year off the roads – yet it the industry is offered virtually no subsidies, no incentives and no encouragement. 

“If these proposals go through, rail freight could go the way of the steam locomotive. It is a bizarre way to treat an industry that has led to a decrease in road traffic accidents and congestion, helped the environment and boosted the economy.” 

The final date for submissions to the ORR on the proposals is Friday 10 August. 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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