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Rail freight better way to cut congestion and pollution than lorry platooning.

Commenting on the Government’s announcement today on commissioning lorry platooning trials 1:

Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail Manager, Campaign for Better Transport said:

“Lorry platooning, with driverless rear trucks, might cut costs for road hauliers but putting more freight on the railways would bring bigger and quicker reductions in congestion and pollution 2.

Recent polling 3 showed that almost two thirds of the public wanted to see more freight on the railways with only 2 per cent wanting to see more freight on the roads, while other polls 4 have shown deep public suspicion of autonomous vehicles.

Philippa continued "As motoring groups have pointed out, there are many unresolved issues with lorry platooning on our congested road network. By contrast, our recent research shows that increased rail freight could make a real difference to congestion and pollution on some of the country's most overcrowded roads 5.  We'd like the Government to give priority to increasing the use of sustainable freight modes and making more efficient use of existing trucks 6 rather than new technology which, while technically interesting, is likely to have very limited real world benefits". 

Notes to Editors


2. Rail freight produces 76% less carbon dioxide emissions and up to fifteen times less air pollution than trucks.  Network Rail Value of Rail Freight 2013 Page 7 -


4., or

5. Invest in rail to cut congestion

6. In 2016, 30.2 % of trucks on the roads were completely empty - DfT empty running statistics Table RFSO117 2017


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