Scottish freight community plans to boost freight across the network
Transport Scotland called on Network Rail to grow rail freight over the next control period, and so a growth programme has been created.
The Scottish freight community has launched a joint strategy to increase the amount of freight on rail, as part of plans to meet a target of 7.5 per cent growth set by the Scottish Government in 2018.
Network Rail, freight operating companies, freight users, industry bodies and hauliers together built the plan, setting out what is required to support rail freight growth as well as looking at improving the average speed a freight train can travel at and increasing reliability – meaning more trains reach their destination on time.
The plan sets out four actions for growth aligned to workstreams, covering four areas that the rail freight industry believes we collectively need to improve upon:
- Encouraging customer confidence
- Developing growth
- Doing things differently
- Achieving simpler solutions.
Alex Hynes, ScotRail Alliance Managing Director, said: “We are working closely with our rail freight operators to grow freight traffic on Scotland’s railway over the next five years. There are individual businesses and whole industry sectors which could benefit hugely from making rail freight part of their logistics mix and we will be working hard to encourage them onto our network.
“We are also committed to making rail freight as fast and reliable as it can be and are investing in our infrastructure to make switching from road to rail as easy as possible for customers.”
Moving goods by rail boosts productivity and brings in approximately £200 million in benefits to Scotland’s economy. There are over 600 freight trains running on Great Britain’s network every day, with around 50 of these trains running in Scotland delivering goods 24 hours a day. Over four million tonnes of product have been transported by rail in the last 12 months.
Paul McMahon, Managing Director of Freight and National Passenger Operators at Network Rail, said: “Our freight customers are a vital part of Scotland’s railways and the Scottish economy. Scottish growth also needs to be considered as part of our GB-wide network as this will make sure that the required capacity and capability exists both north and south of the border.
“Network Rail champions and supports freight. We, and the rail freight industry, welcome the growth target and will continue to work together in delivering the uplift.”
Rail freight brings significant environmental benefits and as part of this plan the rail freight industry commits to work in partnership to transfer at least 1,700 lorry movements a year from Scotland’s road network to rail over the next five years. Each tonne of freight transported by rail reduces carbon emissions by seven per cent compared to road and each freight train removes between 25 and 62 HGVs from Scottish roads.
Debbie Francis, Managing Director of Direct Rail Services, said: “DRS fully support Network Rail’s industry growth plan in Scotland. Being one of the main intermodal freight operators north of the border it is key that Network Rail and industry partners understand the needs of freight customers. Freight services offered in Scotland need to meet delivery requirements and we hope that by working in partnership we can all ensure freight has a voice equal to train operating companies.”