Transport Minister urges DfT to rethink investment in freight

The Minister was speaking as he gave a keynote address to the Rail Freight Conference in Edinburgh.

Currently, there are six cross border rail freight traffic flows between Scotland and England. Department for Transport (DfT) proposals, due to take effect from April this year would potentially see that number reduced to just three.

This is down to the removal of Modal Shift Revenue Support (MSRS) grants from the three routes affected.

Mr Yousaf said:

“This arrangement has worked well since the introduction of MSRS in 2010 and the services themselves have delivered substantial environmental benefits as well as reducing congestion on our roads

“The Scottish Government has ensured that the budget for 2017/18 includes sufficient provision for continuing with the same level of support as in previous years, demonstrating the priority we place on these services and the benefits they accrue.

“While I acknowledge decisions on applications have to take into account available budgets, I have written to John Hayes MP, the Minister for State at the DfT outlining my concerns. Given the clear benefits of rail freight I would strongly urge a revisit of this decision.”

Rail freight benefits:

  • better for the environment
  • generates around 70% less CO2 emissions than road freight over the same journey
  • 90% less small particulate matter and up to 15 times less nitrogen oxide
  • generates over £1.5 billion of economic benefits for the UK each year
  • plays a vital role in the national supply chain by carrying £30 billion worth of goods every year.
  • each freight train can remove up to 70 lorries from our roads
  • estimates show that the three flows affected remove more than 100,000 potential HGV journeys each year

Removing support for these routes could see a return to road haulage with the regrettable loss of economic, environmental and social benefits being achieved whilst the freight moves by rail.

As well as the impact on Scotland, there is also undoubtedly a larger negative impact in England given a high proportion of the miles covered by those journeys will take place south of the border.

Scottish Government investment in rail freight

  • £5 billion package of transformative improvements to infrastructure and services in Scotland’s railways up until 2019.
  • The £30 million Scottish Strategic Rail Freight Investment Fund is supporting the industry as it looks towards unlocking the capacity and capability of the rail freight network in support of growth and capitalising on new market opportunities.
  • Strong track record of incorporating freight alongside passenger requirements into our project specifications, such as with the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine project and electrification projects.
  • Our broader investment in the Aberdeen to Inverness line, Highland main line, and electrification programme will also deliver benefits for rail freight through improved journey times, and capacity and resilience.

Published 1 Mar 2017 Tags