Call for con­tin­ued sup­port for Welsh rail freight

Rail (UK) - - Network News -

There is a strong case for at least main­tain­ing rail freight ca­pa­bil­ity and ex­ist­ing ac­cess in Wales on routes that have han­dled of­ten sub­stan­tial flows in re­cent years.

That is the view of the Rail Freight Group (RFG), in a let­ter to Trans­port for Wales as part of the con­sul­ta­tion into the new Wales and Bor­ders fran­chise that is due to start next year.

Signed by RFG Welsh Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robin Smith, the let­ter states that while most of the is­sues raised in the con­sul­ta­tion are be­yond RFG’s re­mit, and while ac­cept­ing there ap­pears to be a de­clin­ing de­mand for rail freight in the Val­leys, “cir­cum­stances may well change sig­nif­i­cantly over the years to the likely end of a new fran­chise in 2033.”

RFG ar­gues that in the fore­word to the con­sul­ta­tion: “The Cabi­net Sec­re­tary for Econ­omy and In­fras­truc­ture [Ken Skates AM] refers to the need to re­duce the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of trans­port pro­tect­ing rail freight ca­pa­bil­ity as a key con­trib­u­tor to achiev­ing that goal.”

Smith also writes: “Where ad­di­tional and im­proved pas­sen­ger ser­vices are pro­posed else­where in Wales, out­side the core Val­ley Lines, or when in­fras­truc­ture en­hance­ments in­clud­ing new sta­tions are planned, the schemes must take ac­count of and not be at the ex­pense of both ex­ist­ing rail freight flows and/or po­ten­tial growth, in­clud­ing of new flows, in the fu­ture. Pro­tect­ing the in­ter­ests of rail freight should be a key el­e­ment in any scheme.”

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