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Report suggests increasing rail freight capacity will help rebalance the UK economy

8 September 2016  •  Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review

A new report launched by Transport for the North highlights the benefits of upgrading rail freight capacity, helping to contribute to the economy of the north of England.

Report suggests increasing rail freight capacity will help rebalance the UK economy

The Northern Freight and Logistics Report, prepared by Mott Macdonald and MDS Transmodal, looked at how transport of freight and logistics across the North of England can play a vital role in rebalancing the UK’s economy. The report highlights the potential for the sector to make a significant contribution to the region’s economy, forecasting a potential £35billion worth of benefits to the Northern Powerhouse by 2060.

Upgrading rail freight capacity on key east-west and north-south routes

The report recommends increasing rail freight capacity. These include;

  • Three rail freight slots (paths) per hour in each direction across the Pennines to build an east-west freight corridor to revive the northern ports.
  • Additional capacity on West & East Coast Main Lines, including release of existing West Coast Mainline capacity for freight once HS2 is built.
  • Additional capacity between the north of England and key Southern ports, such as Felixstowe and Southampton.

Furthermore, the report suggests support for the reduction of freight transport costs, developing strategically located freight interchanges/distribution centres (Multimodal Distribution Parks) and addressing training and skills gaps.

The full report can be downloaded here.

The Report envisages a joint approach to delivery, with infrastructure improvements in the short, medium and long term delivered by the public sector working alongside commitment and investment from the private sector.

Commenting on the report, John Cridland, Chair of Transport for the North, said: “This is an important report both for the private sector and for local and central government, with a range of practical suggested interventions to help create a step change in the Northern economy. We will be carefully considering these recommendations as we prepare our Strategic Transport Plan, which will be released next year.”

Reacting to the publication, Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail Manager said: “We welcome the publication of Transport for the North’s Intermodal Freight Strategy which confirms the importance of rail freight to the North. A combination of rail freight network upgrades and changing UK freight distribution patterns, which favour the north of England, mean that industry should have the confidence to invest in new equipment and build a series of multi-modal rail freight terminals which will link to other regions.”

Maggie Simpson, RFG Executive Director said: “Our members in the north of England are investing in their facilities to support a greater use of rail freight.  This report shows how this can be effectively harnessed to promote the economy of the region, through targeted support from Transport for the North and central Government.  We support these recommendations.”

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