Rail Freight Group (RFG) welcomed the opportunity to respond formally to the consultation on the proposals for the next Great Western Rail Franchise(s).
Recognising that the consultation is perforce focussed on passenger operations, RFG welcomes the several references to freight traffic, to the requirements of the various freight flows and to the need to accommodate both freight and passenger services on the mixed-use rail network. RFG has long advocated such an holistic approach to the increasing demand for movement of both passengers and goods.
In this context RFG fully supports the summary of current flows set out in Paragraph 1.3 and the recognition of the vital roles of rail freight in moving goods and reducing lorry movements – with consequential environmental benefits in terms of significantly reduced emissions.
Similarly the implications of the rising demand for freight traffic in terms of infrastructure capability and capacity are highlighted in Paragraph 2.3 (second bullet point). RFG welcomes the recognition that additional capability will be required to satisfy both freight and passenger growth.
It is noted that some of the core objectives for the new franchise set out in Paragraph 2.4 have a corollary in terms of rail freight. As noted in our paragraph 4 (above) one of the largest contributions to the objective of “continuing to improve the environmental performance of the railway” comes from modal shift of freight on to rail. It would be perverse if increased passenger services constrained freight growth and/or resulted in a reversion to road movement of some existing rail-borne traffics. This factor might also be included when considering the environmental impacts of the new Franchise, as discussed in Paragraphs 4.45 and 4.46.
Please click the link below to read the full consultation response.