Freight News, Rail

Give us the tools and we’ll move the freight, say Scots railwaymen

[ January 23, 2015   //   ]

Scotland needs better railways if more freight is to be shifted from road, the Rail Freight Group (RFG) told the Scottish Government, In a submission to the Inquiry into Freight Transport by the Scottish Parliament’s Infrastructure & Capital Investment Committee, RFG described the network as “a patchwork of varying capability to handle the modern generation of containers.” Key ‘loading gauge’ pinch points include between the central belt and to Aberdeen and Inverness. Rail was also bedevilled by stretches of single track line and a lack of passing and refuge loops.

In contrast, trucks enjoyed generous height clearanceson the Scottish trunk road network and dual-lane trunk roads were ubiquitous.

RFG Scottish Representative, David Spaven, added: “We also need new terminals to tap rail potential in the likes of Ayrshire and Fife, and not least Dundee, which is one of the largest cities in the UK with no rail freight facilities.”

Another case in point is the key rail container hub at Coatbridge Freightliner Terminal, Scotland’s inland port.  For more than 40 years it has played a major role in transporting Scottish exports by train to the big deep sea ports in the south – however the Coatbridge cranes are 1960s and 1970s vintage. But with 21st century equipment it could greatly increase its efficiency and capacity, improve Scottish exporters’ access to markets and reduce emissions and road congestion.

“However the rules for the Government’s Freight Facilities Grant scheme make it very difficult to qualify for financial support to replace the existing cranes. There is a major opportunity here – but Government action is essential,” he concluded.