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Transport for the North consultation on intermodal freight strategy.

  1. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Intermodal freight strategy for Transport for the North.

  2. 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.
  3. Summary

    Presentations at stakeholder conference spelt out the importance of rail freight to the economy of the North. (See our detailed figures on the value of rail freight to the economy under your heading strengths).

    We would like to make the following points in addition to those issues covered under your three headings:-
  4. Road and rail complement each other as part of the logistics solution by each playing to its strengths. As well as its bulk commodity markets, rail is well placed to offer the long-distance trunk haulage for consumer traffic, as demonstrated its 30% growth since 2006/7 and its sustained 33% market share for the past few years including in 2014/15.
  5. The Rail Minister Claire Perry commended ‘the remarkable rise of rail freight’ at the Rail Engineers Forum conference in June this year. She highlighted rail freight’s excellent record to date and its forecasted growth saying that the Government wants to work with the rail freight industry to remove barriers that inhibit that growth.
  6. Air quality issues in Cities and last mile low emissions deliveries
    A growing number of cities in the UK need to reduce air pollution to comply with EU regulations as seen by the Supreme Court ruling on London’s air pollution violations. By 2020 Leeds will not be compliant with EU NOX regulations. Rail has far lower NOX emissions and lower particulates which are the key air quality problems. Two separate Coals Rail trials with TNT and Stobbarts into Euston have proved that full trains can come into the heart of cities where the cargo can then be discharged into low emissions vehicles. If rail connected consolidation centres are set up on the edge of conurbations rail can be part of the logistics solution by transporting the goods long-distance and then transhipped to low emissions vehicles for final urban deliveries.
  7. Devolution
    Rail freight is a network wide business which needs to be taken into account in devolved structures. Devolution, both Government and industry, present challenges as well as opportunities for rail freight as rail freight is a network-wide industry. The vast majority of rail freight flows cross regional boundaries so it is important that the wider benefits of rail freight to society and the economy are taken into account. Nationwide access, timetabling and possession planning must be managed centrally by Network Rail.
  8. Freight strategy needs to support growth of rail freight –Freight needs a vision like the national Strategic Rail Freight Network (SFN)
  9. Governance structures for devolved structures and statutory duties
    TfN needs to set out a clear framework devolved structures with its statutory duties.
  10. We ask TfN to lobby the Government to include non-road vehicles within the scope of research for Office of Low Emission Vehicles.
    At the moment, with the exception of electric traction, which will not be possible throughout the network, no research is being undertaken for alternative fuel rail locomotives.
  11. Land use planning
    We believe the importance of land use spatial planning needs to be highlighted in this document. Without coherent and integrated spatial and transport planning, TfN will find it difficult to meet all its objectives. TfN can set the overall spatial planning framework for the North and direct local authorities to safeguard suitable sites and rail alignments for potential rail use in their Local Development Frameworks. For rail freight, it is crucial that local and regional authorities protect suitable sites for terminals for future potential use because there are a limited number of suitable locations which have the necessary rail and road connections.  The Government’s National Network National Planning Policy which includes the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange policy would support applications for SRFIs nationally significant infrastructure projects in the planning system.
  12. Lack of a level playing field between modes
    All levels of Government must take into account the scale of subsidy given to HGVs and the level of external costs unpaid by the sector in their transport planning; HGVs impose almost ten times more external costs on the economy and society than rail freight. The latest research carried out for the Campaign for Better Transport 1 using DfT values, found that HGVs pay less than a third of their costs, such as road congestion, road collisions, road damage and pollution which equate to an annual subsidy of around £6.5 billion. These conclusions are in line with a MDS Transmodal study in 2007 which found a very similar amount of underpayment: £6billion.  The Government needs to recognise HGV costs in discussion about rail freight costs so that policy implications can then be understood in both directions with road and rail being examined across the piece. The level of HGV subsidy makes a compelling case for supporting rail, which imposes much lower costs on society and the economy, equivalently.
  13. Urge DfT to retain rail freight grants from April 2016 onwards.
    For example, the rail freight grants (Mode Shift benefit grants) which come up for renewal in April 2016, are paid in recognition of the environmental, social and economic benefits of rail taking HGVs off congested roads. The current grants regime which delivers excellent value for money, and is only awarded for actual containers removed from roads and therefore risk free for government. Average value for money now achieved is over 5:1 whilst the total annual budget has decreased from > £40 million to £18 million. A sudden cessation of the scheme would abruptly force back onto the roads significant rail flows and customerswoould lose confidence in the use of rail; estimates indicate that the direct impact would be flows to the Midlands reverting to road causing around 250,000 containers to shift back to road with further knock-on impacts on other routes. 
  14. Role of rail freight in reducing road congestion
    Research commissioned by CBT looked at specific routes which typically tend to be more congested because of more long-distance HGV traffic, particularly to ports. Its key findings were that:
    • Some parts of road network have more long distance HGV traffic which could be carried by rail
    • The impact of additional traffic in already congested conditions is far greater than a simple increase in pcu or vehicle kilometres suggest – it rises exponentially.
    • In congested conditions each single per cent increase in traffic causes several percentage increase in congestion. In fact, Department for Transport figures state that a modest decrease in traffic of around 2%, results in congestion falling by 10%.  DfT figures show that on congested parts of the network, congestion could be three to four times the percentage reduction in overall traffic levels, using a simple low congestion impact multiplier of 3-4. 

    The research found that key in corridors such as the Transpennine Liverpool to Hull corridor, London to East Midlands, Yorkshire and NE including M1 and A1, all suffer severe congestion at peak hours which could be significantly alleviated by the transfer of freight to rail.
  15. Encourage Local Enterprise Partnerships to support rail freight schemes in Local Growth fund bids
    Because of LEPs’ small geographical areas it is harder to sell the wider benefits of rail freight, which normally cross boundaries, to the LEP decision makers because the benefits of rail freight, such as a reduction in road congestion, pollution, road damage and crashes may not be recognized locally.

    Terminals help regenerate local economies
    LEPS therefore need to be made aware that rail freight terminals bring local re-generation benefits. Large strategic rail freight interchanges can employ large numbers of staff directly. Daventry SRFI now employs around  5000 staff which will rise to 9000 when current expansion is finished. There is scope for terminals of all sizes which need new road/rail works.
    LEPs could help fund new roads to SRFIs and rail connections to the network for terminals through the Local Growth Funds.

Answers to your survey questions

A strengths of rail freight

Importance and strength of rail freight as part of the logistics solution.
The rail freight sector directly contributes:-

  • Rail freight generates more than £1.6bn a year in economic benefits for UK PLC through improved productivity, reduced congestion and wider environmental benefits.
  • Rail freight transports goods worth over £30bn a year, ranging from high end whiskies and luxury cars to supermarket products, cement and coal. Rail moves one in four of the containers entering the UK and half of the fuel used in electricity generation.
  • Jobs created from new terminals/Strategic rail freight interchanges. Daventry SRFI has 5000 staff now with 9000 expected once the agreed DIRFT III is completed.
  • Rail freight industry has invested over £2bn since the mid 1990s
    The growth of rail freight and its importance to UK PLC
    As the rail Minister Claire Perry said this June, rail freight is a success story.
    Consumer traffic has grown by 30% since 2006/7 and grew 5% in the last full year14/15. Construction traffic increased by 17% in 2013/14 and 10% last year with the first quarter of this year up 7%.  The category know as other traffic, which includes biomass, mail, automotive products was up 9.5%  in the first quarter of 15/16
    The decline of coal traffic has been largely anticipated and forecast although the scale of the decline was sharper than expected; coal traffic was down 61% in the first quarter of 2015/16. So the Government and devolved bodies needs to work together with the industry to provide a network which can cater for replacement consumer rail traffic which is forecast to quadruple by 2034 as long as existing market conditions are maintained and the network updated.
    Industry Forecastsshow rail traffic will double by 2034
    Consumer rail traffic is forecast to quadruple by 2034. Construction traffic 2.5% annum growth forecasted. But forecast are dependent on upgraded network and existing market conditions. Retention of the Mode shift benefit grants are important to overcome the lack of a level playing field between HGVs and rail.
    Take into account aspirations of rail freight in 10, 20, 30 years horizons. The Focs and NR are having a detailed session with Mike Garrattpn Wednesday 4th November to update him on the latest projections for traffic, since the issue of the Network Rail market studies and the RFG forecasts.
    Separately, David Brown, Chair of TfN has agreed that Freight on Rail will run a rail freight seminar within the period of the survey for relevant Transport for Greater Manchester, MerseyTravel, SYPTE, WYPTE & Tyne and Wear plus other interested authorities. A trip to a rail freight terminal will also be offered. Mike Garratt has already said he would take part and we hope that Mott Macdonald would also be represented.   
    Rail imposes almost 10 times less external costs on the economy and society than HGVs
  • Rail freight is safer than road freight, HGVs are more than 6 times likely to be involved in fatal accidents than cars on local roads. Source: Traffic statistics table TRA0104, Accident statistics Table RAS 30017, both DfT
  • Transfer to rail can reduce road maintenance costs as HGVs have an adverse impact on road infrastructure. The heavier HGVs are 160,000 times more damaging to roads than the average car- Source 4th Power law. This was shown by the high HGV charge for the M6 toll road, a private venture.
  • Congestion benefits of rail freight
    Road congestion is now costing around £24 billion per annum according to the Freight Transport Association; the heaviest freight train can remove a 160 long distance HGVs from our roads – Source Network Rail June 2010 Value of Freight. 
    Rail freight can help the Government meet its CO2 and air quality targets
  • Rail freight which has a much better environmental record than road
    UKrail freight produces 70% less Carbon dioxide emissionsthan the equivalent road journey- Source DfT Logistics Perspective Dec 2008 P8 section 10
  • Energy efficiency of rail
    A gallon of diesel will carry a tonne of freight 246 miles by rail as opposed to 88 miles Network Rail July 2010
  • Rail freight produces almost 90% less PM10 emissions than road freight and up to fifteen times less NOX emissions  – DfT Logistics Perspective Dec 2008 P8 paragraph 10
  • Damage and costs of main pollutants from transport
    Road transport is the source of 80% of NOx in problem areas which rail can help reduce.
    NOX costs the UK 6576 euros per tonne, in urban areas PM2.5 costs 194751 euros per tonne. Source Ricardo-AEA et all Update of the handbook on external costs of transport 2014 using figures for 2010.
  • 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

B Constraints and issues

Lack of existing capacity now and for future demand is a huge constraints on rail freight. However focus on just the North infrastructure is not the only requirement for the north as most freight travels from the south and therefore specifically for rail the routes to Felixstowe, Southampton, London Gateway and the Tunnel are equally as important.

Especially on the Transpennine, WCML and ECML routes but also on other key routes both within and outside the region.
Demand for freight traffic on Trans Pennine will grow for intermodal/deep seatraffic as well as biomass from Liverpool to Drax. It is important to protectnexisting WCML freight capacity and get released capacity when HS2 built.

Achieving Transpennine freight capacity will be a major challenge for a number of reasons on both north and south routes. The biggest issue is how to resolve conflict with passenger service aspirations for paths on the route.The Diggle route has a large number of passenger trains and will need some interventions to allow any freight services to run during the daytime. Fewer and longer passenger services may ease the issue but some long loops are likely to be needed between Stalybridge and Huddersfield.
The Calder Valley route is actually capable of handling 2500 tonne freight services today and will do so in a week’s time with new GBRf Biomass services. Fairly quickly, however, it will also need interventions due to competing aspirations of increased passenger and expanded freight traffic.
All Network Rail Northern Hub outputs are now delayed; electrification was on hold but even though it has been un-paused it will be delayed ; the Ordsall chord is subject to Judicial Review (JR); Castlefield Route (Manchester to Trafford Park) may be subject to JR. Options include the Southern Transpennine route (Hope Valley, Sheffield to Buxton) which already carries major quarry and cement flows. Of the various northern route options none are straightforward. The Diggle route has very high passenger flows, Calder Valley has adverse gradients and signalling constraints, it will be expensive to expand capacity on the Manchester Corridor. East from Stalybridge the passenger demand is very high. Routes need to be able to cope with 1800tonne weight.
Lack of capability  ienone of the Transpennine freight routes are gauge-cleared for container traffic and there are loading capacity constraints to cater for 1800 tonnes on certain parts of the routes.
Access to ports
Teesport – bulk and intermodal with scope to expand rail freight volumes
Liverpool port redevelopment warrant key rail network upgrades as detailed in stakeholder slides.
As highlighted in the slides at the stakeholder session, the Northern ports rail study detailed the key rail network upgrades needed.
Need for more intermodal terminal capacity and consolidation centres
As your presentation mentioned, there are growing business requirements for warehousing in the north, which previously had been more popular in the Midlands.
Doncaster SRFI, 3M. Other terminal applications such as Port Salford and Rossington.
Kegworth and Etwall are outside but near the region and may therefore serve the southern parts of the North.

C. What interventions, developments and investments are needed for the sector to realise its full potential.

The aspirations of rail freight in 10, 20, 30 years horizons must be taken into account.
Significant investments in the network are needed for the capacity and capability constraints, as explained in section B, to be resolved.  It is paramount that existing traffic is protected and  future traffic requirements are taken into account.
The Focs and NR are having a detailed session with Mike Garratt to update him on the latest projections for traffic, since the issue of the Network Rail market studies and the RFG forecasts.

1. Addendum to Metropolitan Transport Research Unit MTRU 2014 report February 2015. Heavy Goods Vehicles – do they pay for the damage they cause 2014


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