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Growth of Rail freight vital part of Scottish Government strategy

4 March 2016  •  Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review

Speaking at the RFG Conference yesterday, Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay MSP, highlighted the role rail freight will play in promoting long-term sustainable connectivity.

Growth of Rail freight vital part of Scottish Government strategy

Commenting at the conference, Derek Mackay MSP stated the growth of rail freight in Scotland fits precisely with the Scottish Government’s strategy of promoting long-term sustainable connectivity. And there are four main ways in which the Government can help the sector develop ­– “innovation, facilitation, promotion and investment.”

“Innovation is doing more with the resources we have already got and finding new ways of working. In terms of facilitation, the government can act as the ‘honest broker’ to bring various parties together.”

Mr Mackay also highlighted to importance of improving the image of rail freight and its reliability especially in adverse weather conditions.

“We need to help promote the benefits of the sector as the Government is serious about modal shift. The Scottish Government has set some of the world’s most challenging climate change targets, and rail is a good contributor to that.”

He explained that the Government had committed to a £30m Scottish Strategic Rail Investment Fund which is looking at a range of criteria including capacity, journey times and electrification. The Rail Freight Strategy document is due out in the next few weeks.

“ We want to make it easier, not more difficult to use rail freight ”

“My role is to support sustainable economic growth and rail freight is important in that – we want to make it easier, not more difficult to use rail freight. But it does have to be an attractive business proposition,” he warned.

The Scottish Government wants full transparency, accountability and decision-making for the Scottish railways to be held in Scotland. “Many management decisions still have to be routed through the UK and then come back to Scotland and it would be more efficient if we had full decentralisation.”

David Spaven, RFG Scottish Representative, said: “The market for rail freight in Scotland is changing and the debate at our conference shows the opportunities for the sector to target new and expanding markets. The support of Scottish Government will be key in delivering this transformation.”

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