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UK RFG: rail reforms must benefit freight customers

Published by
Dry Bulk,

The UK’s Rail Freight Group (RFG) has cautioned that government reforms to the structure of the nation’s railways must benefit freight shippers as well as passengers. The proposals, set out by Secretary of State Chris Grayling, aim to bring operational management of the infrastructure into future franchises, and consider longer term options such as joint ventures.

Whilst recognising the need to improve performance and cost, rail freight customers have expressed concerns that giving more operational control to passenger franchises could marginalise their interests. RFG will therefore be asking the government to ensure that any changes balance the needs of all users, which should include:

  • Strengthening Network Rail’s Freight Route to promote the interests of freight customers across the network.
  • A powerful National System Operator with responsibility for timetabling, capacity management and coordination of engineering work.
  • A framework which incentivises integrated franchises to support growth in rail freight including new freight terminals and services.
  • A regulatory structure which is refocused on protecting the needs of non-incumbent operators and their customers.
  • An absolute requirement to maintain the national rail network in a fit condition for rail freight.

Maggie Simpson, RFG Executive Director, said: “Freight customers may not be as vocal as passengers, but they share a common desire for a high performing and cost-effective railway which deliver for their needs. Government’s recently published rail freight strategy recognises this, and we look forward to working together on the details of these proposals to ensure that they are a success for everyone.”

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