Rail freight

04.07.17

Two-thirds of public support rail freight investment boost, poll finds

Almost two-thirds (61%) of people would like to see more freight transported by rail, a new poll released today has found.

The findings, released by YouGov, also found that only 2% of people wanted to see more freight transported by road in lorries and HGVs.

And 63% of respondents in the poll stated that they supported the idea of increasing government funding to allow more freight trains to run on the network – only 3% of people said they were against this measure.

Philippa Edmunds, freight manager at the Campaign for Better Transport, who frequently writes for RTM – and who commissioned the poll – explained that the results of the survey showed the majority of the public supported moving more freight by rail and less on the UK’s roads and motorways.

“This poll shows that the majority of the public support moving more freight by rail and want more government funding to assist this,” she said.

“The government is committed to reducing harmful emissions and improving air quality, and rail freight is pivotal to this. Rail freight might not be able to vote, but our opinion polling shows that the public support rail over road when it comes to freight.”

She added that although rail freight had seen consistent year-on-year growth, the potential for further growth was constrained by the current freight network as demand continues to outstrip supply.

On top of that, HGVs receive a large subsidy from Whitehall – adding yet another barrier to enabling rail freight to compete on a level-playing field.

The ORR is currently reviewing rail freight charges, but only one in 10 questioned in the YouGov poll stated that they agreed with rail freight charges being increased.

“The government is currently reviewing the charges it places on rail freight operators to use the rail network,” Edmunds concluded. “If it chooses to increase these charges, rail freight is likely to decline and we will see more lorries on our already congested roads, something that seems to have little public support.”

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Comments

Lutz   04/07/2017 at 11:26

Yes, people will always support additional Government funding for beneficiaries when the questions are structured to present the benefits, but they soon change their mind at the ballot box when they realise the cost to their own pockets. There is still a case for making the operators to contribute to the funding for the improvements to the SFN that they are requesting.

GW   04/07/2017 at 22:32

Yet again in this year's budget the government froze tax on HGV's whilst cutting subsidies to rail freight. A level playing field would be a good start.

Lutz   07/07/2017 at 14:31

@GW I think that is why the government acted to address concerns in the road haulage industry.

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