Freight on Railfreight on rail
homewho we arehot topicsfacts & figurespress releasesno mega trucksconsultationscontact

Rail freight Guidance for Regional Transport Plans February 2005

Freight on Rail is providing this paper on Local Transport Plans (LTPs) to augment the DfT guidance, which makes limited reference to rail freight. We believe that LTPs form a key part of the framework to integrate land use planning and transport. We would ask that local authorities undertake to consult with the rail freight industry. Freight on Rail is pleased to act as a facilitator.

We have already run seven regional rail freight workshops for local Government in partnership with the regions. The final English regional event is taking place in March in the East Midlands with an event planned with the Welsh Assembly in June/July.

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 objectives of LTPs in terms of congestion and road accidents reduction as well as improvements in air quality, DfT Guidance Chapter 3.4/ Value for money Chapter 4.50,4.52 )

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(i)

An aggregates train can remove 120 HGVs from the roads(ii)

Rail freight produces about one tenth of the emissions per tonne kilometre of HGVs(iii).

Research indicates that heavy goods vehicles only pay for around 58 – 69 per cent of the costs they impose upon society(iv).

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(v).

In general terms the key existing and potential markets for rail freight are:-

  • Bulk freight – coal, construction materials, petroleum, iron ore, iron and steel products, waste and containers
  • High value freight – cars car parts food and drink and containers
  • Premium freight – express parcels and second class mail
  • International freight – through the Channel Tunnel and ports

A. LTPs should take account of frameworks for freight defined in Freight Strategies, Regional Transport Strategies (RTS) and Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS)

  1. 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. (DfT Guidance paragraph 2.10)
  2. Make provision to understand rail and road freight better through collection of meaningful statistics and enhanced monitoring.
  3. Understand the major freight flows, the rail infrastructure, who the players are and what could go by rail. (LDF issue)
  4. 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. (DfT Guidance paragraph 2.17)
  5. Separate treatment between local and long distance traffic does not work for rail freight. (DfT Guidance paragraph 2.21)
  6. 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. (LDF issue) . (DfT Guidance paragraph 2.31)
  7. Protect sites, especially those with rail connection for interchanges/terminals. (LDF issue) (DfT Guidance paragraph 2.37)
  8. 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. DfT Guidance paragraph 2.37)
  9. 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 modal shift.
  10. Providing and safeguarding the sufficient capability and capacity on rail routes to ports should be a high priority.
  11. 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. (LDF issue)
  12. In rural areas if lines are preserved they may be used by quarries. (DfT Guidance paragraph 2.48)
  13. Have dialogue with the Office of Rail Regulation to protect rail paths for rail freight through conurbations.
  14. Promote waste strategies to use rail as the preferred mode for access to larger landfill, incinerator or recycling centre.
  15. Allocate funds to improve road access to existing or new rail freight terminals.
  16. Make provision for road signage for existing and new sites. Proper lorry routing can minimize the impact on areas around interchanges.
  17. Disseminate information across business promoting rail freight benefits to business.
  18. Establish FQPs relating to management of all modes freight traffic.
  19. Promote mineral strategies to use rail as the preferred mode.
  20. Set targets such as number of lorry journeys saved and growth of rail’s share in local freight market to measure progress.
  21. Establish dialogue with SRA and its successor.

B. What makes a good railhead?

To be effective interchange terminals must:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

  5. Do not underestimate the importance of this element, which, if wrongly handled can kill a project. DfT Guidance paragraph 2.45)
  6. Consult and understand local opposition and promote the wider environmental benefits. DfT Guidance paragraph 2.45)
  7. Choose the right location and size, use green vehicles where reasonably practicable, sustainable building design and landscaping.

    What makes a good freight route?
  8. To serve freight customers effectively freight trains should use routes with capacity which provides time-tabled pathways for predictable, consistent and reliable train operation.
  9. Clearances to take the type of wagons and intermodal units that the customer demands.

Please do consult Freight on Rail if you have any queries.

International Railway Union (UIC) 2000
Network Rail 2004
AEA Technology for SRA Oct 2004
Oxford Economic Research Associates report 1999
Design Manual for roads and Bridges Highways Agency 1999

Telephone: 020 8241 9982

DfT Guidance – Full Guidance on Local Transport Plans -
8 December 2004

Philippa Edmunds
Feb 11th 2005

Copyright © Freight on Rail 2001-2018