West Midlands Stakeholder Consultation
- Thank you for giving us an opportunity to comment on your stakeholder consultation and will look forward in taking part in further public consultations.
- 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.
- As previously discussed, we would like to spell out our mission statement for rail freight in West Midlands -
Building on the Centro Freight Strategy of 2013, in order for rail freight to maintain and expand its crucial role in reducing road congestion and road collisions as well as providing sustainable freight across the region, the ITA needs fully to support key rail freight network enhancements such as those needed at Water Orton and the establishment of both new and enlarged rail freight interchanges, without which rail freight volumes cannot grow.
- ITA Informal Stakeholder Engagements – West Midlands Strategic Transport Strategy by
ITA policy and strategy team Feb/March 2015
This is a passenger transport strategy which does not even mention freight even though freight is an important part of servicing industry which will help the WM ITA achieve the objectives outlined in its strategy. But apart from this serious omission, we support the strategy and objectives outlined in this document and would like to make the following comments. We also believe that there is a considerable amount of relevant data in the Centro Freight Strategy written in 2013 which is relevant to the WMSTP.
- Role of rail freight in WM and beyond
Rail freight is an important part of the logistics offering in the West Midlands and delivers a wide range of products to and from the region. In particular, rail is well placed to supply the long distance trunk haul for consumer freight which now accounts for around a third of rail freight volumes and is forecasted to grow four or five fold in the next 25 years. Road and rail complement each other and that is why additional road/rail transfer stations are needed to facilitate cost effective transhipment between the modes. (See section 5). Rail also transports raw materials and semi-finished goods to and between manufacturing plants as well as construction materials which has seen a 23 per cent growth in the last quarter compared to the previous year.
- Rail freight’s economic, environmental and social benefits
Rail’s ability to reduce road congestion, pollution, infrastructure damage and exposure to road collisions must be fully recognised and valued in the presentation and forthcoming strategy within its economic, environmental/health objectives on slide 14.
The latest research commissioned by Campaign for Better Transport has shown that HGVs are paying less than a third of the costs they impose on society in terms of road congestion, infrastructure damage, road accidents and pollution. Source MTRU research
- The ITA must recognise its role of a strategic cross roads for the national network. It is only mentioned once in the presentation on slide 24.
In addition to mentioning the West Coast Main Line in the context of freight, we believe that it is necessary to take into account the following routes and regions in terms of destinations and origins of freight flows.
Routes to the following regions are important for freight flows
a) East Midlands and Yorkshire, and the North East
b) South West and Wales, the South Coast
- Capacity and capability upgrades needed.
Around Water Orton as mentioned in your slide 24
It should be noted that HS2 should release much needed freight paths on the WCML.
The WM case for re-opening the Walsall to Stourbridge route is based on passenger benefits and is not a priority rail freight industry scheme.
We support upgrades to passenger services as long as they do not cause extra delay for existing and planned rail freight services.
- Need for road/rail transfer points to increase rail volumes
Rail freight volumes cannot be increased without adequate terminal/interchanges for road/rail transfer.
Spatial planning at national, sub-national and local levels which support rail freight is crucial for getting planning permission for terminals of all sizes for different commodities which are needed in the West Midlands.
- National policy and large infrastructure projects, including Strategic rail freight interchanges
The latest National Planning Policy on national networks supports building large SRFIs of greater than 50 hectares through the National Strategic Infrastructure projects (NSIPs), part of the Planning Inspectorate. The new DfT SRFI policy, as part of the National Networks National Policy Statement, issued on 17th December 2014 should now give developers the confidence to bring forward applications.
- Sub-national and local transport and planning policies
Slide 23 could also highlight that In terms of the sub national agenda, this strategy will be very important to give direction to strategic transport and land use planning for LEPs, Local Transport Boards, ITAs and local authorities. Making these points in the WMSTP is crucial to getting more freight transferred to rail to reduce adverse impacts of freight transport.
Land use planning strategies such as local plans will be a material consideration in planning decisions/inquiries made by the Planning Inspectorate.
Transport policy and Local Transport plans.
As previously mentioned, rail freight volumes cannot be increased without adequate terminal/interchanges for road/rail transfer, chosen by industry in the right locations that is why this strategy is so important in defining this need in planning terms which can influence LEP, Local Transport Board and local authority policies. This point needs to be stressed with regard to terminals/gateways. ITAs and local authorities have a strategic role in safeguarding sites for terminals and alignments in local plans for future possible rail use. Freight on Rail is pleased to advise which sites are suitable for safeguarding because when it comes to deciding which sites to develop, developers and the rail freight industry is best placed to know whether particular locations are viable.
Terminals/interchanges can be broken down into categories defined by type of traffic and commodities and size. So in addition to a network of large strategic rail freight interchanges (SRFIs) for consumer products, medium sized and small terminals are also needed for a variety of cargos.
Medium sized intermodal terminals which fall below the 50-60 hectares size, which cater for consumer rail freight in the same way as SRFIs, are needed in the West Midlands as mentioned in the Freight Strategy. Existing examples include Hams Hall, Telford International and Birch Coppice.
Bulk terminals are also needed for commodities such as aggregates and construction materials.
The increased attention to transhipment to low emissions road freight vehicles for final urban delivery, will make it easier for rail to compete with road for the long distance trunk haul element of flows.