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Freight can use HS2 capacity to reduce carbon emissions

Significant carbon benefits can be achieved by allowing the capacity released by HS2 on the existing network to be used by rail freight, a new report suggests.

Greengauge 21 was commissioned by the Campaign for Rural England, the RSPB and the Campaign for Better Transport, to examine the impact of HS2 on carbon emissions.

The greatest benefits can be achieved through sensible complementary policy measures and by making full use of the capacity HS2 will release on the existing railway, the report suggests.

For capacity released on the West Coast Main Line (WCML), the report states that “the carbon savings from using the additional unclaimed capacity of three train paths per hour in each direction for freight, are considerably larger still, adding 55% to the direct carbon savings from HS2.

“This is such a strong advantage that it will be worthwhile examining complementary measures to ensure that a major switch from HGV road haulage to rail freight is achieved as a consequence of HS2.”

Maggie Simpson, Rail Freight Group executive director, said: “This research demonstrates the carbon benefits for the UK which can be achieved through modal shift to rail freight, as part of the development of HS2. Government must commit to ensuring that a fair share of the released capacity is protected for freight use, as the work to develop HS2 progresses.”

The report is at:

For detailed analysis of HS2’s potential to boost rail freight, read transport consultant David Thrower in the current edition of Rail Technology Magazine. Subscribe at

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John   24/09/2012 at 18:07

This is really tentative. In order t orealise this the three paths an hour have to be utilised by shifting some of it onto the HS2 Route and I can't see that unless it is overnight. Then a real selling job has got to be done on the operators to get the truck loads onto the trains and then offering incentives to go to the train and disincentives to keep it on the roads. The all powerful HGV Lobbys will go into overdrive on this - after all, it was them who campaigned long and hard to close the Railways down in the first place!

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