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13.12.12

RFG calls for upgrades to Scottish freight

Strategic upgrades are needed to Scotland’s rail freight network, the Rail Freight Group (RFG) has argued in its submission to the Scottish Government.

The submission to the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3) calls for upgrades to secure cost effective rail freight operations connecting Central Scotland and the three Anglo-Scottish rail routes with key centres including Aberdeen, Ayrshire, Caithness, Fife, Inverness, Lochaber, Moray and Stranraer.

The RFG has also called for new freight terminals to be built at Dundee, Giruan, Lochaber, Lothian and Stranraer.

RFG’s Scottish Representative, David Spaven, said: “With recent and planned future route re-openings, Scotland will have a pretty comprehensive rail network, but we need to ensure that it is fit-for-purpose for the demands of today’s freight users and will satisfy the customer’s growing demand to cut carbon emissions from the supply chain.

The Scottish Government should make the strategic connectivity of the rail freight network a national priority in its land use planning and development processes.

“Massive trunk road schemes such as the Second Forth Road Bridge, the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route and the proposed A9 dualling will be a big boost for road hauliers and will put rail at a significant disadvantage.

“It’s vital that Victorian elements of our inter-urban railway network are upgraded to ensure that rail can compete on a level playing field. We need more track capacity for freight on our inter-urban routes and better clearance under bridges and tunnels to accommodate the modern generation of wider and taller containers which can travel anywhere on the road network.

“Enhanced rail freight connectivity (and associated modal switch from road haulage) will play a key role in securing sustainable economic growth, offering substantial carbon advantages and enabling rail freight to play a much bigger role in the supply chains of key export sectors such as food & drink (including internal Scottish whisky movements) and forest products (including timber). Looking to the future, rail – with its lower exposure to oil price increases – can provide a resilient long-term alternative to road haulage, provided we significantly develop the strategic connectivity of the network.”

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