Rail freight

21.04.17

CBT calls for investment in freight capacity to cut road congestion

Sending more goods by rail could have the potential to ease congestion on the UK’s busiest roads and yield great economic benefits, new research published today has revealed.

The findings of the ‘cross modal freight’ study from consultants MTRU working for the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) and sponsored by the DfT looked into the benefit of increasing freight capacity of rail routes that run parallel to three hugely congested roads.

Two of these routes, the A14 between Felixstowe and the Midlands and the A34 from Southampton to the Midlands, have up to 6,500 of the largest 5 and 6 Axle articulated lorries driving on them each day, making up 10% and 17% of all traffic on the road respectively.

The other route, the M6, has over 13,500 HGVs driving on it, whilst the M62 had over 11,000, representing 10-12% of all the traffic on both sections of motorway.

However, today’s research revealed that upgrading existing rail lines running parallel to the motorway could allow huge amounts of freight carried by lorries to be transferred on to the rail.

The CBT say that putting 2,000 lorry loads a day on to rail would be the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off the road.

And now, the Campaign is calling on the government to apply the findings to future rail and road investment strategies, in particular to support continued investment in the Strategic Rail Freight Network.

Philippa Edmunds, from CBT, said that the research confirmed a point that the organisation had long argued – that an integrated rail and road planning strategy is the best way to reduce road congestion, collisions and pollution.

“It shows that on certain strategic transport corridors it is possible to improve road conditions without needing to add more road capacity,” Edmunds stated.

“This latest research demonstrates the importance of analysing strategic corridors as well as using national averages in transport planning.”

Edmunds also went on to explain that the report showed the extent to which upgrading the rail freight network on key strategic corridors ameliorates road congestion and therefore improves productivity.

“Transferring freight from road to rail would bring serious additional benefits not quantified in this report – improved road safety and reduced air pollution and carbon emissions – these should also be considered,” she said.

And a spokesperson for DfT said: "We agree with the Campaign for Better Transport that rail freight offers real benefits for the environment and helps keep bulky loads off of the road network, helping to ease congestion for other motorists.

“We look forward to using these findings to help inform our coming road and rail strategies and are committed to working with the rail freight industry to support growth of the sector.”

The news follows an announcement from Network Rail earlier this month that outlined plans to repurpose almost 5,000 freight paths for passenger use.

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Comments

P Keen   22/04/2017 at 16:55

A good start would be to re-open the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton railway north from Kings Worthy as a dedicated freight line and electrified from the start. The line should be rebuilt to the Berne gauge to allow for swap bodies and 9'6 containers. Additional tracks and some new alignment would be required from Kings Worthy to Southampton Docks to give separation from passenger paths. Also, what ever happened to the proposed strategic electrified freight spine that seems to have been kicked into the long grass? It is considered that the Government should commit to funding initiatives like this and actually see to it that thy actually happen for the good of the post Brexit economy

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