Business, Freight News, Logistics, Road, Sea

Wales needs joined-up freight strategy, says report

[ July 5, 2012   //   ]

A new report by the National Assembly for Wales called for a new freight strategy for the country with greater emphasis on rail freight, electrification of the relief lines on the Great Western Main Line to improve access for container traffic to Welsh ports and for gauge clearance work to allow for high-cube containers. All routes into North and South Wales have a restricted loading gauge that prevents them from carrying high-cube containers except on low-platform wagons. The document, ‘International connectivity through Welsh ports and airports’, published on 4 July, also called for feasibility studies into short sea shipping and port centric logistics.

The Rail Freight Group welcomed the publication of the report, adding that rail freight suffered obstacles such as restricted rail links to some ports and difficulties for operators in justifying reinvestment and competition. There should be an active policy on ports and more consideration of rail freight path availability to ports.

Port operators also highlighted concerns over road links to ports. ABP, in particular, warned that plans for a new M4 relief route would bisect Newport dockts, while Stena Line said that failure to dual the end of the A55 Expressway at Holyhead was leading to serious traffic delays.

The Assembly document also pointed out that while the controversial backdating of business rates for business premises within ports had been rescinded in England by the present Government, Welsh ministers had not asked for similar powers under the 2011 Localism Act, on the grounds that under 90 firms would have been affected and that it would also have been necessary to forego greater funding received in the UK Government’s spending review.

Wales Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science said that the issue was being considered by an independent enquiry on business rates, chaired by Professor Brian Morgan.

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