Research published in September 2012 by Greengauge 21 has demonstrated the significant carbon benefits which could be achieved by allowing capacity released by High Speed 2 (HS2) on the existing network to be used by rail freight.
Greengauge 21 was established in 2006 as an umbrella under which all those with an interest in high speed rail network can come together and openly and publicly debate the merits of alternative routes, priorities and technologies, alternative implementation strategies and the economic and environmental benefits for Britain. The organisation seeks to act in the national and the public interest, by carrying out research and bringing forward evidence so that a full and open debate on high-speed rail can take place.
For capacity released on the West Coast Main Line (WCML), the report states that ‘the carbon savings from using the additional unclaimed capacity of three train paths per hour in each direction for freight are considerably larger still, adding 55 per cent to the direct carbon savings from HS2. This is such a strong advantage that it will be worthwhile examining complementary measures to ensure that a major switch from HGV road haulage to rail freight is achieved as a consequence of HS2.’
Commenting on the report, Maggie Simpson, RFG executive director, said: "This research demonstrates the carbon benefits for the UK which can be achieved through modal shift to rail freight, as part of the development of HS2. Government must commit to ensuring that a fair share of the released capacity is protected for freight use, as the work to develop HS2 progresses."