EWS said on 5 September 2006 that the Network Rail's draft Freight
Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) was one of four key components to
deliver a predicted 50% growth in freight moved by rail over the next
Research by EWS reveals that this projected growth is accurate as
British industry is increasing its use of rail freight for economic
reasons and also to reduce the size of its carbon footprint by switching
some element of existing road transportation to rail.
Providing an efficient network for freight is only one of four crucial
elements that are required to be resolved to meet this growth projection.
The other three are:
The Office of Rail Regulation is proposing to increase the track access
charges freight operators pay Network Rail to use the railway. This
would price freight off the railway and onto road. The charges freight
operators pay Network Rail need to be lowered. This would attract
additional volumes to rail, delivering substantial societal benefits
including a reduction in the emissions that cause global warming.
Channel Tunnel rail freight volumes are projected to increase by 260%
in the next decade. However, Channel Tunnel rail freight services
will be axed from 30 November 2006 as no affordable charging regime
will be available from that date. This requires an urgent solution.
Fuel duty costs for rail freight operators have been increased by
300% over the last ten years. In the last three years, the increase
has been 200%. At a time when the cost of fuel has increased, the
Government needs to recognise the environmental benefits of rail freight
and lower its fuel duty to enable traffic to be won to rail.
Network Rail's Freight Route Utilisation Strategy is a crucial step
to deliver rail freight growth and requires each of these significant
levers to be addressed. Depending on decisions taken, each one will
have a positive or negative impact on future rail freight growth.
EWS has worked closely with Network Rail on the development of the
draft strategy. It is very encouraging that Network Rail supports
the view that additional capacity for freight trains can be achieved
through other options rather than just new track and signalling. The
rail freight industry can deliver more today by implementing longer
freight trains, and EWS will be seeking approval this autumn from
Network Rail to operate new lengthened trains across the rail network
This is already been implemented for energy generation industry. In
March this year, EWS and Network Rail successfully introduced jumbo
coal trains of nearly a mile in length. This enabled two trains worth
of coal volumes to be moved in one slot in the timetable, resulting
in 4,000 tonnes of coal being delivered. This is an efficient use
of scare capacity and underlines how more can be delivered by rail
through very simple ideas.
EWS has also lengthened other coal services but adding on between
one to six wagons per train in partnership with Network Rail. This
has delivered an additional six million tonnes of haulage capacity
for the energy generation industry, again without the need to operate
Graham Smith, EWS Planning Director, said: "The increasing demand
by British industry for using rail to transport their goods to markets
underlines the importance that all parts of the rail freight jigsaw
are connected to meet this demand. The vision for growth in Network
Rail's draft Freight RUS is deliverable, but will only be achieved
by reduced track access charges that freight operators pay to run
trains, lower fuel duty and an economic pricing regime to operate
freight trains through the Channel Tunnel. A strategy for growth is
meaningless if the cost of using the rail infrastructure makes the
running of freight trains uneconomic."
He continued: "The focus on a sustainable transport system highlights
the importance of rail freight, which produces one-tenth of the polluting
emissions of road. The draft Freight RUS demonstrates where judicious
investment will allow customers to decide to buy the benefits of freight
by rail, and also benefit society by reducing the size of their carbon