Latest Rail News

27.04.15

Government research played down benefits of rail freight to road network

Government research has played down the potential benefits of the transfer from road to rail freight, the Campaign for Better Transport has claimed.

The group says that the government research has only been looking at national averages across all strategic roads rather than looking at specific routes which typically tend to be more congested because of more long-distance HGV traffic.

Part of the National Networks Policy Statement reads: "In general, the nature of some journeys on the Strategic Road Network means that there will tend to be less scope for the use of alternative transport modes…. If freight carried by rail was to increase by 50% (in terms of tonne kilometres) this would only be equivalent to a reduction of around 7% in goods carried by road."

The Campaign for Better Transport say that this statement only looks at national averages and needs to take into account other factors, such as parts of the road network having more long distance HGV traffic (which could be carried by rail) and that HGVs occupy more road space than cars, to get a true picture of the potential to reduce road congestion.

The group’s figures show that a 50% increase in rail freight alone could reduce HGV traffic on busier roads by 12% and road congestion by 9-12%. Combined with a rise in water freight of 50% HGV traffic could fall by 21%, and congestion could fall by 15-25%.

Philippa Edmunds, freight on rail manager, Campaign for Better Transport, said: “While the government is committed to investing significant funds in the railways and in rail freight in particular, it has underestimated the full extent to which this investment could reduce road congestion.

“The government should take account in its forecasting and modelling, and in its policy and spending, the potential to shift HGV traffic to rail and water and the congestion, safety and pollution benefits of doing so.”

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