Rail freight guidance for Regional Strategies, Examinations in Public
and Local Development Frameworks December 2005
Freight on Rail has written this paper on Regional Transport Strategies
(RTSs) and Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) and Local Development
Frameworks (LDFs) to help activists across the regions. As you
are aware, RTSs, as part of the Regional Spatial Strategy, form
a key part of the framework to integrate land use planning and
Good Practice Example
We suggest you view the Yorkshire and Humber RTS on our web site
under regional agenda where as well as stating a policy of shifting
from road to rail, mechanisms are included to aid this modal shift.
Why we need a framework for rail freight
The nation needs the right land use planning framework to cater
for this demand for rail freight. The regional and local planning
systems are vital instruments for achieving the modal shift to
rail. They not only provide an enabling, supportive context in
which rail freight can develop but ensure that new terminals are
located in the right place for the right people. Without the appropriate
national, regional and local planning framework the rail freight
industry can neither obtain planning permission to develop new
rail freight interchanges, nor protect potential rail lands, nor
justify long-term investment to increase freight carried by rail.
We ask local authorities undertake to consult with the rail freight
industry. Freight on Rail is pleased to act as a facilitator.
We have run nine regional rail freight workshops for local Government
in partnership with the regions and a conference with the Welsh
Assembly Government. We are keen to work with regional and local
authorities to run further events.
We need to make sure that rail freight does not fall between regional
and local plans. It is important to bear in mind that rail freight
is extremely well placed to meet the key Government objectives
in terms of congestion and road accidents reduction as well as
improvements in air quality,
The case for rail freight
The following statistics highlight rail freight’s economic,
environmental and social benefits.
Research shows that rail freight’s external costs, ie excluding congestion
are eight time less per tonne kilometre than air freight and four
times less than road
An aggregates train can remove 120 HGVs from the roads
Rail freight produces about one tenth of the emissions per tonne kilometre
of HGVs .
Research indicates that heavy goods vehicles only pay for around 58 –
69 per cent of the costs they impose upon society .
Road maintenance Costs
Lorries are almost entirely responsible for road repairs –
a 40 tonne 5 axle lorry causes tens of thousands of times more
damage than an average car.
Roads are expensive to maintain
Lorries cause significant damage to the roads which has to be
paid for by taxpayers. Transferring freight to the railways reduces
this cost. The damage done by heavy vehicles increases with approximately
the fourth power of the axle load. Using the fourth power law,
one axle of 10 tonnes (HGV scale) is 160,000 times more damaging
to a road surface than an axle of 0.5 tonnes (car scale). This
is why road surface maintenance is generally taken to be almost
exclusively attributable to the heaviest vehicles.
Sending goods by rail can lower road maintenance costs for authorities.
In general terms the key existing and potential markets for rail
- Bulk freight – coal, construction materials, petroleum,
iron ore, iron and steel products, waste and containers
- High value freight – cars car parts food and drink
- Premium freight – express parcels and second class
- International freight – through the Channel Tunnel
A. Regional Transport Strategies (RTS) and Regional Spatial Strategies
(RSS) should set the policies to promote the shift to rail freight.
We ask local and regional authorities to follow the following
- Make sure that the RTS and Regional Economic Strategy and Local
Development Frameworks evaluate rail freight thoroughly. Freight
Strategies are a good mechanism to achieve this. Ensure that there
is cross reference between these documents and the Local Development
Frameworks and Local Transport Plans.
- Make provision to understand rail and road freight better through
collection of meaningful statistics and enhanced monitoring.
- Understand the major freight flows, the rail infrastructure, who
the players are and what could go by rail. (LDF issue)
- Take account of the fact that rail freight flows normally cross
regional boundaries so that awareness of cross regional and national
rail freight flows are important.
- Separate treatment between local and long distance traffic does
not work for rail freight.
- Planning policy should encourage rail connected sites for distribution
and industrial development. Avoid the mistakes of the 1980s where
for instance major new car factories were built without rail access.
- Protect sites, especially those with rail connection for interchanges/terminals.
- Promote new terminals and the upgrade of existing ones that have
good road and rail access. Expansion of existing sites is commonly
a faster and simpler way to increase modal shift.
- It is important to push for expansion, where feasible, of existing
rail freight flows as this is often a simple and fast way of achieving
- Providing and safeguarding the sufficient capability and capacity
on rail routes to ports should be a high priority.
- Planning policy should identify and protect track beds and sidings
with existing or possible future rail potential taking into account
PPG13 even where there was no foreseeable rail usage. For example
Surrey Heath and Beftonforth Ltd cases upheld PPG13* in this way.
- In rural areas if lines are preserved they may be used by quarries.
- Have dialogue with the Office of Rail Regulation to protect rail
paths for rail freight through conurbations.
- Promote waste strategies to use rail as the preferred mode for
access to larger landfill, incinerator or recycling centre.
- Allocate funds to improve road access to existing or new rail
- Make provision for road signage for existing and new sites. Proper
lorry routing can minimize the impact on areas around interchanges.
- Disseminate information across business promoting rail freight
benefits to business.
- Establish FQPs relating to management of all modes freight traffic.
- Promote mineral strategies to use rail as the preferred mode.
- Set targets such as number of lorry journeys saved and growth
of rail’s share in local freight market to measure progress.
- Establish dialogue with DfT rail directorate and in particular
- Establish dialogue with Network Rail with is now responsible for
Freight Route Utilisation Study (FRUS) as well as Route Utilisation
Strategies which cover freight and passenger issues.
B. What makes a good railhead?
To be effective interchange terminals must:
- Be on an existing railway line – this sounds obvious but
as building new railway lines is extremely expensive there is
little chance of lengthy new lines for freight.
- Have good road access suitable for HGVs – full –size
lorries need to be able to serve railheads safely and with minimal
impact on other road users.
- Be of sufficient size – today’s freight trains are
often over 500 metres in length, modern handling methods safe
working areas and value-adding activity (storage, processing,
re-packing) need space. There are however examples of small profitable
terminals around the country.
- Be capable of 24 hour operation – a requirement of many
customers, which often means that activity at railheads must be
able to take place at all times. Residential property in the vicinity
should be designed so that sleep is not disturbed or better still
do not allocate housing near potential sites. (LDF issue)
Understand local factors
- Do not underestimate the importance of this element, which,
if wrongly handled can kill a project.
- Consult and understand local opposition and promote the wider
- Choose the right location and size, use green vehicles where reasonably
practicable, sustainable building design and landscaping.
makes a good freight route?
- To serve freight customers effectively freight trains should use
capacity which provides time-tabled pathways for predictable,
consistent and reliable train operation.
- Clearances to take the type of wagons and intermodal units that
the customer demands.
do consult Freight on Rail if you have any queries. Current regions’
strategies are on the web site under regional agenda
Telephone: 020 8241 9982
Philippa Edmunds November 2005