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Hertfordshire County Council Rail Strategy Consultation.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Hertfordshire County Council Rail Strategy (HCC).
Freight on Rail, a partnership of the rail freight industry, the transport trade unions and Campaign for Better Transport, works to promote the economic, social and environmental benefits of rail freight to local and central Government.

We would like to make the following points:-

  1. Even though the rail network is shared between passenger and freight there is very little mention of the benefits or the needs of rail freight in this strategy or the vital role that logistics plays to support the everyday lives of us all. For example, rail freight is not mentioned in the key issues and themes.

    It is also disappointing that, there was no direct contact with the rail freight industry, other than Network Rail, during the stakeholder engagement.

    There is no recognition of the economic, social and environmental benefits of rail freight both locally, regionally and nationally even though
    1. It is Government policy to support existing rail freight services and promote the growth of rail freight volumes to service the economy and society based on the economic, social and environmental benefits of rail freight.
      Rail freight is worth £1.6 billion per annum to the UK economy. RDG
      Under- Secretary of State for Transport responsible for rail, Claire Perry MP.
    2. Rail freight can help HCC meet its four economic development objectives if the rail strategy. Rail freight produces almost ten times less externalities than HGVs. This translates into low carbon energy-efficient safer less polluting freight alternative to HGVs which reduces road congestion.

      Alleviation of road congestion helps economic efficiency- each large aggregates freight train can remove up to 130 HGVs from Hertfordshire roads. Source Network Rail

      Rail freight creates 76 per cent less carbon dioxide emissions, almost 90 per cent less small particulate matter and up to fifteen times less nitrogen oxide emissions than the equivalent road journey. Source Value and importance of Rail Freight Network Rail 2100

      Rail is over 20 times safer than HGVs according to the ORR. HGVs are over 6 times more likely to be involved in fatal collisions than cars on minor roads. Source DfT Traffic Statistics Table TRA0104, Accident statistics table RAS 30017 September 2014
    3. Road and rail freight complement each other. However, as well as the traditional bulk flows, rail is well placed to provide the long haul trunk movements of consumer rail freight with far lower impacts on the economy and society than HGVs.

      The forecasted 18 per cent population growth will necessitate more housing and supporting infrastructure. As there are minimal aggregates available in the south-east, construction materials have to be imported into the area from elsewhere in the UK and the movement of construction materials by rail plays a vital role in supporting development and construction in the south-east. More consumers will also require more goods that will have to be moved by lorry or train.

      Overall both passenger and freight services would benefit from more rail capacity to grow and support the economy and society. There is synergy of benefits for passenger and freight services of enhancements, However, recognising that rail upgrades are expensive and take time then all parts of the industry should be working together to better overall optimization of the current timetables to include capacity for freight and passenger services.
  2. Road/rail transfer points are important generators of economic growth. For example the Daventry Strategic Rail freight Terminal employs around 5000 people. The proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchange at Radlett will attract £250 million private sector investment, create 3,000 jobs over the long term and reduce freight’s carbon emissions. Each freight train in and out of Radlett would remove around 60 HGVs from our roads.

    However, in the short to medium term, before further capacity enhancements can be implemented, there should be optimisation of the timetable to include capacity for freight.
  3. An overriding theme of the strategy is that passenger services and reliability are impinged by freight services. This is inaccurate; the latest figures collated by Network Rail show that just  3 per cent of all delays to passenger services are caused by freight services.
  4. References in the strategy below.P26 Ensure that rail freight growth does not impinge on passenger services. 4.10 that peak hour passenger paths are at risk of being impacted by freight traffic. P74. Very few freight services run during the London passenger peak, nor are there any plans that they start doing so. However this means that it is vital that sufficient capacity is allowed for rail freight services during the of-peak hours.
  5. Existing rail Freight
    Existing rail flows either in or transiting HCC include building materials to the following four terminals plus across the border Harlow in Essex.

    Broxbourne (Rye House) – Aggregates – West Anglia Main Line – I train per week (Tuesday or Wednesday)
    Stevenage (Langley Jn) – Aggregates – East Coast Main Line – 1 train per week (Sunday)
    Radlett – Aggregates – Midland Main Line – Up to 2 trains per week (usually at night)
    Watford Jn – Aggregates – West Coast Main line – 1 train per week

    Additional aggregates flows are forecast as well as consumer flows from and to the proposed Radlett rail freight terminal.
    As stated previously, the Radlett rail freight terminal will serve the wider South-East and reduce lorry miles (ie road congestion), pollution and exposure to road collisions in the wider SE/Eastern regions as well as London. The proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchange at Radlett will attract £250 million private sector investment, create 3,000 jobs over the long term and reduce freight’s carbon emissions. Each freight train in and out of Radlett would remove around 60 HGVs from our roads.
  6. Spatial planning element to strategy

    We support section 4.10.1 and the need to protect suitable sites for all sizes of rail freight terminals with good rail and road links, future stations, rail alignments. Unless local and regional authorities safeguard rail lands in Local Development Frameworks and wider transport and spatial plans they will not be available for future potential rail use. LEPs should also be directed to support protection of key rail sites.
  7. Capacity for freight should be safeguarded on the following routes:-

    Midland Mainline
    ECML south section south of Hertford North.

    Hourly freight path on West Anglia to connect to London Gateway Port.

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