Business, Freight News, Logistics

Industry welcomes Government logistics plans

[ December 2, 2011   //   ]

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans for a network of Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges and to improve access for rail freight to and from the country’s major ports as part of a £55m in the Strategic Rail Freight Network in his Autumn Statement. The money will be used to double the track between Ely and Soham, and to gauge clear the route between Syston Junction near Leicester and Stoke.

Secretary of State for Transport Justine Greening said that an expanded network of SRFIs, complemented by other freight interchanges and terminals, was needed to support longer-term development of efficient rail freight and in ensuring UK businesses have access to robust and efficient supply chains. They would also generate large numbers of jobs, both during construction and in operation. New guidance will help to simplify the planning process for developers, and will help them to progress key schemes which have been ‘on hold’ since the abolition of regional special strategies in 2010.

The move was welcomed by industry representatives, including the Rail Freight Group, whose chairman, Tony Berkeley, said: “This Guidance is a clear and welcome statement of Government commitment to rail freight. Strategic rail freight interchanges are vital if we are to develop efficient and cost effective rail solutions as part of modern logistics chains, and there is an urgent need to develop more facilities, particularly in the south east. We are particularly pleased that the Guidance has the support not just of DfT but also of the Treasury and the Department of Communities and Local Government.”

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) also welcomed the Chancellor’s announcements. Chief executive Steve Agg said that the rail developments in the Midlands and London were important for freight.

The Logistics Growth Review outlined a series of practical measures which, when put into operation, would help to maximise the efficiency of the sector, he said. The investment plans published in the National Infrastructure Plan and the enhancement of the Strategic Rail Freight Network would will increase rail freight and reduce lorry miles.

Freightliner’s head of rail strategy, Lindsay Durham, added: “Following the success so far of the investment in the Strategic Freight Network it is really pleasing that further support of the development of key rail routes from the major ports has been brought forward. The announcement to invest in the doubling of the line from Soham to Ely and to gauge clear Syston Junction to Stoke are particularly welcomed as these schemes will really make a difference and will relieve current capacity bottlenecks.”