FTA is pleased HS2 is set to be given the go ahead today (11 February 2020) but logistics businesses now need a guarantee from government that it will use the high-speed rail line to free up space for rail freight services on existing lines.
The business group, which represents all of the logistics sector, is also calling on the government to commit to a nationwide programme of upgrades to the rail network; HS2 will not solve capacity issues in other regions.
Alex Veitch, Head of Multimodal Policy at FTA, comments: “FTA is calling on the government to provide reassurance that HS2 will release much-needed capacity for rail freight services on existing lines once operational; the UK’s rail network is bursting at the seams and too often freight loses out to commuter and leisure services. With HS2 trains able to carry more than 300,000 people per day, the shift in traffic will release significant capacity on existing lines; FTA is seeking a guarantee from government that this capacity will not be pre-allocated to passenger services, but instead made available for bids from freight operators, in a fair and transparent way.
“While FTA and its members appreciate the clarity this decision provides, HS2 should be considered as just one element of a nationwide strategy to upgrade the rail network; this is long overdue. For example, we need to see upgrades to freight facilities in the trans Pennine network; this area is currently excluded from a broader programme of upgrades, which is a missed opportunity in the view of FTA.
We would also like to see the complete electrification of the network so rail freight can become the first zero carbon freight mode, and the delivery of the Strategic Freight Network, which is a suite of projects aimed at unlocking freight capacity on the conventional network. As the UK transitions to a net-zero emission economy, rail will play a much larger role in logistics; the government must ensure the framework is in place to enable this transition.”
Efficient logistics is vital to keep the UK trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.