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Freight on Rail response to the Transport for South-East Economic Connectivity Review Final Report.

June 2018

Freight on Rail is pleased to respond to the Transport for South East (TfSE) Economic Connectivity Review Final Report

Campaign for Better Transport is an NGO which hosts Freight on Rail.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, devolved and central Government.


  1. This report is highly focused on road corridors and road solutions and therefore does not recognise the importance of multi-modal options for freight in particular, the benefits of which were highlighted in the recent DfT Ports Connectivity Study. While rail may be ‘minor’ in volume terms, both passenger and freight are very important strategically.  The report also seems to underestimate the importance of freight generally. Neither the technical nor the methodology notes, both background documents, mention freight at all.
  2. As it states on Page 57, of the draft economic connectivity document, being consulted upon now, the impact of freight traffic is significant for the economy and there is an evidence gap. It will be important to take note of the National Infrastructure Commission freight study, currently under way.
  3. Road and rail freight complement each other and should play to their strengths to offer an integrated supply chain to customers, who are largely mode agnostic. Rail freight is well placed to offer long distance consumer (intermodal) and traditional bulk materials in particular construction traffic, the two main sectors, which make up two thirds of the market now. For example, rail is crucial for infrastructure and housing development which has seen sustained growth in recent years; it has increased by nearly 60 per cent up over the previous decade, with sustained growth every quarter last year. It has a bright future fuelled by the demand for housing and infrastructure development. Shippers prefer to use rail to transport containers out of Southampton (and other container ports outside the South-East) and are calling for more services. Brexit is likely to increase the need for rail services to reduce congestion in our ports.
  4. The environmental social and economic benefits of rail freight  do not get sufficient acknowledgement as it imposes much lower external costs on society than HGVs as recognised in the DfT Carbon Review of February 2017 - Shifting freight from road to rail can result in significant CHG emission savings as well as economic and safety co-benefits.
  5. These conclusions are in line with two other separate reports.  MDS Transmodal study in 2007 found a very similar amount of underpayment: £6billion. Transport & Environment research  issued in April 2016 found that HGVs were only paying 30% of their external costs.
  6. So, in the context of Brexit, there is a strong case for upgrading rail freight links to ports and conurbations in the near future to build effective trade links in order to shift traffic from HGVs to rail to relieve congestion at ports. If trains can continue to clear customs at origins, this will make rail freight more competitive as well as improving international movements of all freight flows. International freight is key to keeping a viable economy. The core commodities still require shifting and to an extent UK might look a little more to world trade links with more port focused intermodal trade.
  7. P35 When discussing Southampton Port the amount of freight carried by rail into and out of the port is not mentioned in the Draft Economic connectivity Review, but is mentioned in the Economic Connectivity Review Phase 1 Page 43 Section 5.26
  8. For example, around 40 per cent of the intermodal traffic out of Southampton port is carried by rail to the Midlands, the North and Scotland; there is suppressed demand for more services constrained by lack of capacity on the network. The regular services (Monday to Friday) are 20 trains in and 20 trains out of the port each day. Rail accounts for around 20 per cent of automotive services – 6 trains in, 6 trains out. So together transporting bothcommodities by rail removes around 2,600 large HGVs each day. 1
  9. The biggest issue facing rail freight is a shortage of infrastructure capacity so continued Government investment to unblock pinch-points and improve the capability of the Strategic Freight Network, is crucial to satisfy customer demand in both sectors. The strong benefit cost ratios for freight enhancements, typically in the range of 4:1 to 8:1, highlighted in the latest Network Rail Route Strategic Plan, should be factored into investment planning. Targeted rail freight upgrades work; the gauge upgrades out of Southampton Port increased rail’s market share from 29 to 36 per cent within a year and had a benefit-cost ratio of five to one.  So TfSE should add the rail upgrades out of Southampton to its list of interventions; the case for which is made in our research below. Furthermore, the strategy does not highlight the rail infrastructure as key to economic outcomes on Page 55.

    Corridor research, sponsored by DfT, shows investing in rail can reduce road congestion, pollution & collisions
  10. Research by MTRU that we commissioned, sponsored by the DfT,  shows that upgrading the existing rail lines which run parallel to key congested motorway routes would allow large numbers of lorry loads to be transferred to rail, easing congestion, improving air quality and reducing road collisions.

    The research examined the socio-economic benefits of upgrading existing rail lines on four heavily congested routes including the A34 from Southampton to the Midlands, the North and Scotland. Transferring an additional 2000 HGVs, equivalent to up to 8000 cars, from the A34 corridor alone  every day to rail would significantly improve road conditions without needing to add extra road capacity and would reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 10 per cent and particulates by 7 per cent per corridor. Furthermore, it would also reduce fatalities. See safety section. 18. D Pages 7,8,9

    For example, the existing 20 daily intermodal and automotive freight train services in and out of Southampton already remove around 2,600 large lorries per day off the congested A34 corridor. Rail freight could be increase by 50 or 60 per cent on the A34 corridor out of Southampton Port within the next five to seven years based on a combination of current funded CP5 Network Rail projects and the- as yet- unfunded proposals in the Network Rail Freight Network Study for the Control Period 6 until 2024.
    There are currently 6531 large HGVs, 5 per cent of traffic (5 axle and above)on the M3 sections between junctions 11-21, 4150, making up 9 per cent of the traffic on the A34   and 4800 HGVs which make up 9 per cent of the traffic out of the port. See page 10 of MTRU report2 which used DfT road counts AADF. So removing up to 2000 large HGVs would have a huge impact on congestion and productivity as well as reducing pollution and road collisions.

    Impact on congestion of transfer of freight from road to rail on key strategic corridors
    , confirms the point, that integrated rail and road planning is the best way to reduce road congestion, collisions and pollution. In the case of certain strategic transport corridors, it is possible to improve road conditions. If long distance consumer freight and construction materials can be transferred to rail, the productivity and reliability of existing road services will improve without needing to add any extra lanes of motorway.
    The following DfT statement, on 21stApril 2017, supports corridor analysis and recognises that integrated rail and road planning into a cross-modal approach is the best way to reduce road congestion, collisions, and pollution. DfT said: "We agree with the Campaign for Better Transport that rail freight offers real benefits for the environment and helps keep bulky loads off of the road network, helping to ease congestion for other motorists. We look forward to using these findings to help inform our coming road and rail strategies and are committed to working with the rail freight industry to support growth of the sector.”

  11. Furthermore we welcome the recognition in the DfT Ports Connectivity Study, published in late April, that upgrading the rail freight connections to our ports is critical to providing sustainable efficient freight distribution. The study identifies key routes which need enhancing including the A34 corridor out of Southampton port, so please urge the Government to commit funding to these projects to make them happen. Campaign for Better Transport has long argued, that integrated rail and road planning is the best way to make freight distribution more efficient and less polluting so DfT recognition that freight policy needs to be intermodal and its setting up of cross-modal freight teams are both positive moves.

  12. Reference Freight Page39 - Unless rail is properly catered for and upgrades built, road will remain dominant which will make it difficult for the government to achieve its congestion and safety improvements and its environmental targets including legally binding carbon targets in the climate change legislation. So, Government and sub-national bodies need to analyse data to plan the most efficient sustainable freight links.

    Surface access investments
  13. DfT has long pursued a policy that, in general, the sponsor of a port development should also contribute to the costs of any enhanced inland links required. While there is a role for developer contributions to local requirements, which can be closely linked to the specific growth arising from the development, it does question whether this principle should extend, for example, to the strategic rail and road networks. The costs of rail enhancement schemes are significant and, if the port developer is expected to fund in full the capacity it will use, it is likely that the level of costs could become a barrier to the port investment itself.  Care must be taken to balance the expected contributions against the need for developments to proceed and, where such developments are expected to provide wider economic benefits, we would expect this to be taken into account.
    Government cross departmental policy supports expanding rail freight
  14. The Department for Transport’s  Rail Freight Strategy of September 2016, supported by the industry, makes the case for rail freight which is very important as it will give the industry and its customers the confidence to carry on investing in the sector.
    DfT Ports Connectivity Study, published in late April, stated that upgrading the rail freight connections to our ports is critical to providing sustainable efficient freight distribution. The study identifies key routes which need enhancing so we urge the Government to commit funding to these projects to make them happen.  It also calls for a more holistic, multi-modal approach to freight infrastructure planning as the UK prepares to leave the EU. 
    A number of infrastructure enhancements have already been delivered through the Strategic Freight Network which has been instrumental in expanding the consumer market as highlighted by the gauge upgrade out of Southampton. But as yet unfunded enhancements are planned in the industry’s next funding period, Control Period 6, in order to to create much needed capacity and improve efficiency.
    Defra Clean Air Strategy supports modal shift to rail.
    The strategy states that the Government will support industry research into rail freight emissions and air quality to enable better comparisons with HGV emissions, to understand how a shift from road to rail can best be used to deliver a reduction in emissions of air pollutants. 
    It commits to Developing and deploying cost-effective options for shifting more freight from road to rail, including low emission rail freight for delivery into urban areas with zero emission last mile deliveries
  15. Construction traffic
    Importance of Medway port for aggregates P36 to supply London and South East.
    Aggregates traffic is not always local ref P25. Your report states that aggregates will have destinations near the port but this is not always true as aggregates can be carried significant distances by rail as local sources dry up. For example Mendips traffic travels from Somerset via Thames Valley Great Western Rail to London.
    There are aggregates flow out of the port of Chichester by rail – ref Figure 62
    Almost 50 per cent of aggregates and construction material for the capital are delivered by rail with significant waste being removed by rail which is relevant to the TfSE region it borders and shows rail’s potential. Figure 6.2
    There are a range of regional terminals which need supporting, either in the TfSE region or near the boundary such as Greenwich peninsula, Purley, Battersea in London  and many others.
    British Gypsum at Mountfield  use rail.Isle of Grain has a new rail linked steel warehouse.
  16. Channel Tunnel rail freight
    Since the traffic peak, cross-Channel rail freight traffic has faced a number of issues which have had a negative impact on the volume of traffic. A combination of issues including external security concerns and major strikes by railway staff in France created a decline in users of the route. However, with renewed efforts by the parties involved, there are signs that traffic is returning to the route, with new flows being won by rail freight operators in 2018. There is potential to increase this traffic, moving freight onto rail from other modes with the associated environmental and social benefits. There are opportunities post Brexit for more rail freight services if  proper customs arrangements can be put in place to allow customs procedures at origin rather than at the border.
    In 2017 1.22 million tonnes of freight were moved by 2,012 trains, predominantly as import flows into the UK.
  17. Terminals/interchanges
    Terminals of all sizes for different commodities, can facilitate a large growth in rail freight volumes and are thuskey but do not appear to be covered. For example, in London and other cities, more aggregates terminals are needed to bring in construction materials into the heart of cities. Almost 50 per cent of aggregates are delivered to the capital by rail. Each freight train can carry enough materials to build 30 houses. 
    Rail/Road transfer terminals are key to improving freight efficiency as they allow both modes to play to their strengths and lets rail freight compete through economic of scales.More medium and large terminals are also needed in the South East and near its boundary. The proposed terminal at Slough has been delayed by the third runway proposals for Heathrow.
    However, a public Inquiry is being held starting June 19th 2018 to build a SRFI at Howbury Park, Slade Green, in South-East London; this facility  has the scope to remove millions of large HGVs (5 axle or greater) each year and offer high quality local jobs and will be used by freight operators to carry traffic within the South East. Joint analysis by Campaign for Better Transport and Malcolms, the operator of the Daventry rail freight terminal, shows that its Intermodal Rail Freight Terminal removed 64 million miles of lorry journeys from UK roads in the last year alone. Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges like Daventry are important economic generators and show the way the private sector is investing in and supporting rail freight. Rail Freight Interchanges enable rail to compete with HGVs by reducing the transhipment costs. Daventry Intermodal Rail Freight Terminal employs over 5000 people and is forecast to employ up to 9000 when its new terminal opens.
  18. The case for expanding rail freight

    Rail freight reduces congestion, road infrastructure damage, collisions and pollution

    A Congestion
  • Congestion costs the UK £30 billion in 2016 with the UK ranked the fourth most congested developed country and third most congested in Europe. Building more roads alone will not solve the problems as it creates new traffic. When a new road is built, new traffic will divert onto it, a well-known and long-established effect ‘induced traffic’.
  • The largest freight trains in the UK can remove up to 160 HGV journeys from our roads
    - Value of Freight July 2013 Network Rail
  • One train can carry enough materials to build 30 houses
    Mineral Products Association November 2016
    DfT estimate the cost of congestion being £0.99 per lorry miles on the most congested roads.

    B Road infrastructure damage
  • Lorries do cause far more damage to foundations and structures of roads than cars because the damaging power rises exponentially as weight increases. This is called the Generalized Fourth Power Law. The standard six-axle44 tonne 16.5 metre truck is 136,000 times more damaging to road surfaces than a Ford Focus. Therefore some of the heaviest road repair costs are therefore almost exclusively attributable to the heaviest vehicles. Lorries are only paying 11 per cent of their infrastructure costs despite what the FTA claims.

    C Reducing emissions and improving air quality
  • As rail freight produces 76% less CO2 emissions than the equivalent HGV journey, increasing rail freight is an important part of the DfT’s policy to reduce freight’s emissions and help the UK meet its legally binding Climate Change targets. Source DfT Rail Freight Strategy September 2016
  • HGVs contribute 17 per cent of surface access CO2 emissions, despite making up only 5 per cent of road vehicles whereas both passenger and freight rail together are less than 2 per cent. Source DfT Rail Freight Strategy September 2016
  • Road Freight is a big CO2 emitter as HGVs contribute 17 per cent of surface access CO2 emissions, despite making up only 5 per cent of road vehicles. Reducing emissions from road freight is expected to be challenging, confirmed in a report from AECOM:“it will be very difficult to meet the 2050 goals without major reductions in GHG emissions from Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs).

    Furthermore, while electric technology means car and van emissions can be reduced significantly, the DfT has stated that it expects the existing HGV diesel engine technology to be predominant well into the next decade in its carbon review in February.

    Air quality
  • Rail produces 90 per cent less PM10 particulates and up to 15 times less nitrogen dioxide emissions than HGVs for the equivalent journey. Highways England figures show that HGVs are producing around 50% of the nitrogen oxide pollution from road pollution on the strategic road network even though they only make up 5 per cent of road miles driven in the UK.
  • HGVs account for around 21 per cent of road transport NOx emissions while making up just 5 per cent of vehicle miles. A shift to rail freight will play an important long-term role in reducing non-exhaust particulates (PMs). While the latest EuroVI engine technology reduces exhaust particulates, non-exhaust particulate pollution from HGV tyres and brakes, which is hard to reduce for trucks, will remain a serious problem for which there is no current solution, especially for trucks which have large tyres. 

    Non-exhaust particulate emissions will also continue to be a considerable health risk for electric cars and vans, a point which has not been widely acknowledged to date.

    D The safety costs of freight should be evaluated and taken into account
    There is no mention of the considerable safety benefits of rail freight which should be factored into freight transport strategic and planning decisions. HGV involvement rate in fatal crashes on local roads has doubled in the past ten years.
    Our ten-year analysis of DfT Road Safety statistics, which show that HGVs are now twice as likely to be involved in a fatal collision on minor roads as they were ten years ago, demonstrates the benefits of reducing lorry miles. Despite only making up five per cent of overall traffic miles, HGVs are almost seven times more likely than cars to be involved in fatal collisions on minor roads.

    Whilst cars are getting safer, HGVs continue to be dangerous in a collision because of their size and weight. The figures also reveal little or no improvement in the rates of fatal collisions involving HGVs on motorways and A roads. In 2014, on motorways, HGVs were involved in almost half (45 per cent) of fatal collisions although they only accounted for 11.6 per cent of the miles driven on them.

    Graph showing involvement in fatalities HGVs over 3.5 tonnes compated to all traffiic 

    Source: Traffic statistics table TRA0104, Accident statistics Table RAS 30017, both DfT
    The following DfT table shows the benefits of preventing collisions

    Tabled data showing the valuation of the benefits of prevention of accidents


  1. Port of Southampton Port Masterplan 20162025, Associated British Ports, 2016

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