Select Committee on Transport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Freightliner Group (REN 01)



  1.1  The Freightliner Group is the competitive force in British rail freight. Our intermodal division, Freightliner Ltd, carries intercontinental containers between the major container ports in Southern England and our logistics centres in Northern England and Scotland. We carry around 600,000 containers a year at present, of which some 60% pass through the terminals we serve in Liverpool, Manchester, Yorkshire and Teesside.

  1.2  Freightliner Heavy Haul is our new entrant in the rail bulk market, and has already carried some four million tonnes of coal to power stations in Northern England; it operates cement, petroleum products and car trains in the North, and provides substantial resources for Railtrack's infrastructure maintenance and renewal operations.

  1.3  Freightliner makes a substantial contribution to the economic life of Northern England, as well as providing the environmental gains which come from rail transport.


  Our ability to provide efficient services for our customers is dependent both upon our assets and the condition and capacity of the rail network. We have procured the investment of significant sums of money in locomotives, wagons and terminal facilities; we have replaced almost all of our life-expired diesel locomotives and have bought more than 250 modern wagons for coal traffic. We have erected new cranes at our Manchester terminal, and are developing the capacity of our Leeds terminal. We require similar investment to be made in the network. Our ability to increase the number of trains we run to and from the North of England is constrained by bottlenecks on the key main lines, many of them in locations outside the geographical region itself. The Strategic Rail Authority's Freight Strategy addresses many of the most important issues, but it is now essential to have some action to fulfil the good intentions. In particular, the provision of higher-gauge routes for the increasing volume of 9' 6" intercontinental containers and the capacity issues on the West Coast Main Line must be priorities. The total number of intercontinental containers entering the UK is increasing steadily, and the rail network must be updated to accommodate extra traffic if it is not all to pass by road.


  Efficient and effective freight transport systems are essential for a sound economy, and a sound economy is essential if there is to be social development. Rail freight has a vital part to play in providing efficient and effective transport in a way which has considerable environmental advantages, and we believe that the Committee should ensure that it takes this into account in its deliberations. The social benefit of taking large tonnages of freight off the congested road network has a value which must be weighed with the values attached to increasing personal and social mobility, and we believe that that value should not be understated.


  It seems to us that the terms of reference for the Committee's inquiry are extremely widely drawn; we will be pleased to provide any further information which may be needed.

15 May 2002

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