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Response to West Midlands Rail Freight interchange Consolidation

Freight on Rail fully supports the Four Ashes proposal on the following key grounds.

Rail freight needs to be part of the supply chain solution for UK freight distribution on economic, safety and environmental grounds.

In line with Government spatial policy
The Planning Act 2008 (‘the Act’) sets out the planning process for
Developmentswhich areclassified asNationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.

TheseProjects includeimportant types of development such as energy generating stations, new highways, new gas and overhead electric lines, as well as a range of other nationally important projects, including SRFIs.

In the case of SRFIs, the ‘National NetworksNational Policy Statement’(theNPS), publishedin December 2014, sets out the need for (and Government’s policies to deliver)Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projectson the national road and rail networks in England, including SRFIs. The NPS policy states that there is a compelling need for SRFIs, and due to the fact that there are very limited sites suitable for SRFIs, the use of the green belt can be justified in special circumstances 

Job creation and re-generation benefits of SRFIs

SRFIs enable rail to compete with HGVs as it reduces the transhipment costs between the modes by providing value added services such as rail rail served warehousing and ancillary service buildings.
It will generate around 6,000 jobs with £10m business rates to the local authority. Typical job mix is 35% administrative/manual, 50% skilled semi-skilled and 15% managerial/technical. The British Property Federation report stated that the UK logistics sector had the following impacts GVA per employee £58,000. GVA per employee forecast to be £75,000 by 2035 which is twice that in banking and finance.

This investment will give the industry confidence to follow suit.

In order to increase rail freight, which is part of the Government’s strategy to reduce it legally binding CO2 emissions reductions, interchanges such as Four Ashes are needed at strategic locations with good road and rail connections, across the UK. Four Ashes meets this criteria. Rail freight is also part of the policy to reduce road congestion which is adversely affected productivity. An average freight train from Four Ashes could remove 77 HGVs from congested strategic roads.

Detailed analysis from Malcolm, who run the SRFI at Daventry in Northamptonshire and Campaign for Better Transport, shows that the SRFI removes far more lorry miles than previously thought. In 2017,  rail services from DIRFT in fact remove 64 million lorry miles mainly off the congested strategic road network.

Lorry Miles removed







Route between  Daventry and:

No of train services per day

Days a week services operate

Frequency (weeks per year)

Load (no of containers per train)

Equivalent round trip by road in miles

No of lorry miles removed per year (days x loads x trip miles x frequency x no of trips)





























All Daventry to Scotland services




30 normal
(1 service is 34)










Freight is a big CO2 emitter

There is a significant opportunity to reduce transport emissions by shifting freight from road vehicles to rail. In total, road freight (Heavy Goods Vehicles and light vans) was responsible for one third of total greenhouse gas emissions from transport in 2015. Source EIS (2017) ‘Final UK greenhouse gas emissions national statistics: 1990-2015

By contrast, the total greenhouse gas emissions from rail (including both freight and passengers combined) are an order of magnitude lower at less than 2% of total UK transport emissions.

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

Energy efficiency is directly related to carbon dioxide emissions, rail is significantly more energy efficient than other modes with the exception of shipping. A tonne of goods can travel 246 miles by rail as opposed to 88 miles by road on a gallon of fuel 
Source Network Rail Value of Freight July 2010.

While electric technology means car emissions can be reduced significantly, current electric technology is not feasible for HGVs as the batteries would weigh more than the payload of the lorry. Nor can it reduce road freight’s particulates emissions.

Air quality benefits of rail freight

Rail freight can be part of the solution to reduce air pollution. Currently, 40,000 people die prematurely in the UK from diesel fumes wide-spread air quality violations, especially in cities like London and Manchester which are already exceeding their NOX emissions limits.
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% of road transport NOx emissions while making up just 5% of vehicle miles – DfT Freight Carbon Review February 2017.

Latest Highways England statistics state that HGVs contribute 38% of NO2 emissions from road transport close to its motorway network. H.E is expanding network with over 1,300 additional lane miles between 2015 and 2020 so it needs to get more HGVs off the roads for which they are responsible. Page 5.

While the latest euro VI engines have reduced NOx emissions from truck engines considerably it will remain hard to reduce their HGV brake and tyre particulate emissions.

Freight Transport: Average emissions in grams per tonne-kilometre



















PM10 particulate matter of less than 10 microns;
CO carbon monoxide;
NOx oxides of nitrogen;
CO2 emissions
VOC volatile organic compounds.  Source RSSB 2007

Noise Pollution
Far fewer people negatively impacted by rail noise than road noise.
DfT stats: only around 40,000 people are impacted by rail noise, but around 700,000 people are impacted by road noise.

The safety case for SRFIs

Rail freight is also far safer than HGVs which are six times more likely than cars to be involved in fatal crashed on local roads. In 2014, on motorways, HGVs were involved in almost half  (45%) of fatal collisions although they only accounted for 11.6% of the miles driven on them. Source: Traffic statistics table TRA0104, Accident statistics Table RAS 30017, both DfT

This graph shows HGV involvement rate in fatal crashes on different road types over the past nine years, where conditions are very different, based on the percentage of miles they represent.

Involvement in fatalities - HGVs over 3.5 tonnes compared to all traffic

DfT analysis of costs of fatal collisions in 2015

Department for Transport statistics

Accident/casualty type

Cost per casualty Cost per accident


1,783,556 2,005,664



DfT table RAS 6001



Reduction in road infrastructure costs

Rail freight also reduces the road infrastructure costs for local, devolved and central Government as the standard 44 tonne 6 axle 16.5 metre HGV because of their weight are 138,000 times more damaging than a Ford Focus to road infrastructure. Source 4th power Law

Four Ashes has been designed to minimise its adverse impacts on its neighbours.

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