Norman Baker MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport, speaking at the 15th Annual Rail Freight Group (RFG) Christmas Lunch on 12th December 2012, described how the rail freight sector is key to the UK economy.
With around a quarter of all containers moving inland from the nation’s ports by rail, and almost all the coal used in power generation supplied by rail, he described the sector as being "good for both the economy and the environment."
Norman went on to describe how Government is supporting the rail freight sector with committed investment in the network for upgrading key routes and developing the ‘electric spine’, encouraging greater use of electric traction. He also noted that Government ‘wishes to develop wider links with Europe’, with proposals for UK participation due to be published in the new year. Mr Baker finished his speech by wishing a “rail freight Christmas”.
RFG Chairman, Tony Berkeley, congratulated all rail freight stakeholders on their hard work throughout the year and their achievements in increasing efficiencies while work to further remove costs from the sector. He noted that good progress had been made by everyone in 2012 and hoped that the sector would receive continued support from Government and the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) in 2013.
In his address, he said: “The rail freight sector has had a good year, particularly in regard to the strong growth in the intermodal sector, and has enjoyed continued investment and support. But we now urgently need the ORR to publish its conclusions on freight charges, which we hope will be the right answer for the sector.
“We are pleased with all that Government is doing to support the sector, and provide investment. We urgently need to unlock more investment in terminals – and I hope this is the last Christmas lunch where I have to mention the on-going delay at Radlett,” he said.
The RFG’s Christmas Lunch is a unique event on the rail sector’s calendar, being the largest freight-dedicated rail event in the UK. Known for its informal atmosphere, the lunch remains the highlight of the RFG’s calendar of annual events, which includes regular meetings and regional conferences targeting all of the major issues affecting the sector.
Held at the outstanding Lancaster, London hotel, the popular event regularly sells out and this year was no different with around 730 key rail freight stakeholders from all across the sector attending.
As always, donations were taken for Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, whose work is invaluable at this time of year. Shelter remains the RFG’s chosen Christmas Charity and a huge £5,800 was raised by guests who entered a Champagne Raffle. The RFG would like to thank everyone who donated and congratulations to all of the prize winners.
RFG would like to wish all of its members a very merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and a prosperous 2013.