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How Government policy can realise rail freight’s role in reducing carbon emissions

Tonne for tonne rail freight produces 90 per cent less carbon dioxide than road transport

Key factors for rail freight

1. Land Planning framework

A national strategy is crucial for rail freight because it sets the context and the overarching policy for regional and local spatial planning. Regional authorities produce Regional Spatial Strategies, statutory documents, which direct regional and local land-use planning policy. Local authorities produce Local Development Frameworks which identify and protect existing and disused sites, lines and sidings with potential as suitable interchange locations.

2. More interchanges needed for rail freight to grow

The larger terminal/interchange schemes often have regional significance but the principle of subsidiarity places decisions on planning consent at local level. Clear national and regional guidance is essential if local decision-making is to take account of regional and national needs. 

3. Giving long-term stability to industry and confidence to invest

Rail strategy also needs to demonstrate that the Government is committed to rail freight so that the industry can make long-term decisions to invest. The industry has invested over £1.5 billion since 1994.

A national strategy is crucial for rail freight because it sets the context and the overarching policy for regional and local spatial planning. Regional authorities produce Regional Spatial Strategies, statutory documents, which direct regional and local land-use planning policy. Local authorities produce Local Development Frameworks which identify and protect existing and disused sites, lines and sidings with potential as suitable interchange locations.

4. Rail freight operators need long term stability in track access charges.

The Government recognized in the ‘Future of Rail’ in July 2004, that “rail freight plays an important part in the nation’s logistics” and stated that” rail freight operators need certainty about long-term access rights and what they will cost”.

5. Government’s role in encouraging third-party investors in rail infrastructure

The Government should promote partnerships between the rail industry and other interests, such as councils, developers, employers, tourism bodies and development agencies, to improve the railway locally. New funding regimes, for example through a form of enhanced land value tax, already being considered by the Government, could be applied to the railway, especially in growth/regeneration areas.

We therefore think that a key element of both HLOS and the rail strategy should be about creating templates for partnerships between the rail industry and others.

6. Capacity and capability on rail network for growth

Rail network is constrained on key corridors as highlighted in the Route Utilisation Strategies (RUS) programme. Investment is needed if rail freight is to recognise its full role in reducing carbon emissions.  

Questions

a) Is the Government’s recognition of rail freight’s role in reducing carbon emissions reflected in its policies?

Research indicates that heavy goods vehicles only pay for around 59% - 69% of the full (including the social and environmental) costs they impose upon society. These costs include greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, noise, congestion, accidents and deaths. - Environmental and Social Costs of Heavy Goods Vehicles and Options for Reforming the Fiscal System, Oxford Economic Research Associates, report prepared for English Welsh and Scottish Railway, January 1999

Freight Grants

The total amount of direct Government support for rail freight has reduced dramatically

£61.1m 01/02
£51.9m 02/03
£37.3m 03/04
£28.5m 04/05
£25.8m 05/06

This support will decrease further 

07/08, 08/09 the SDF will be approximately £26.1m, which covers all modes – no discrete allocations by mode, of which circa £7m will be for rail & water FFGs.

Freight Facilities Grants (FFG) which lever in significant amounts of private investment are important in encouraging the shift to rail as they offset the initial start up costs of modal shift. It is unfortunate that while a resumption of Freight Facility Grants is most welcome, the small amount actually made available will have a modest impact on modal switch and will do little to raise confidence in rail on the part of potential and existing customers

Not clear if Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) will continue beyond 07

£2m  06/07 for rail & water for use in supporting aggregates movements.   

The Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly have separate arrangements for freight grants
 

b) Will benefits of using rail freight, as opposed to road freight, be fully reflected in Ports Policy?

Why was Shellhaven approval made conditional on motorways developments rather than rail?

Container traffic is one of the fastest growing rail traffic, which is forecast to double over the next ten years.


Customer quotes at a European rail freight seminar
23rd February 2006

Alistair Monague of Maersk commended the UK industry for achieving 98 per cent on-time arrival at destination rail terminal. He noted that rail was cheaper than road to many terminals and demonstrated customer satisfaction. Maersk has trebled its rail volumes in three years and with the volume increases the unit cost paid by Maersk has dropped by four per cent.

Extract from Rail Business Intelligence 9th March on same speech from Mr Monague of Maersk

Maersk stated that road hauliers raised their rates by 15 per cent over the same 3 year period…. But reliability is even more important for the shipping line. Out of 80,000 jobs (a box round trip in the UK) delays attributable to rail in 2005 were 882 wheras road delays amounted to 3336. “With road we have three, four or five times more problems, that is why we do it by rail,” Montague explained


c) Will benefits of rail freight be fully reflected in appraisal of Transport Innovation Funding applications?

Philippa Edmunds Freight on Rail Campaigner  April 2006  email:Philippa@freightonrail.org.uk. 

AEA Technology for Strategic Rail Authority, October 2004

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