Freight News, Rail

HS2 and freight: we want proof, says Logistics UK

[ November 6, 2020   //   ]

Logistics UK (formerly FTA says that the sector’s support of the HS2 high speed rail line was conditional on the government pledging unequivocal support to grow rail freight.

Multimodal policy manager Zoe McLernon commented: “Logistics UK needs government to secure the future of rail freight in the UK and provide a cast-iron guarantee that freight services will have sufficient access to the released capacity that HS2 will provide. The conventional rail network is bursting at the seams; there are almost half as many freight trains using the network as there were 15 years ago.”

However, passenger services, which continue to grow steadily, still take the lion’s share of the network. She added: “We are concerned that the process to allocate released capacity may favour passenger operators, because it will be run by the incumbent passenger operator (West Coast Partnership) and there is no guarantee that capacity will be provided for freight.

“HS2 presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make Britain’s transport network more sustainable, and the opportunity for freight via released capacity from HS2 is substantial. HS2’s development will free-up space on the existing rail network for up to 144 extra freight trains per day, potentially removing 10,944 HGVs from the UK’s congested roads every day. However, there is no policy or legal requirement that a proportion of released capacity must be allocated to freight; Logistics UK urges government to reconsider its principles and provide clear and unequivocal support to grow rail freight.”

In October, HS2 released its own report arguing that construction of the new high speed line would release substantial freight capacity on the existing routes by removing express passenger trains from the network.