Memorandum by English Welsh & Scottish
Railway (REN 31)
RAIL SERVICES IN THE NORTH OF ENGLAND
EWS is the UK's leading rail freight haulier,
lifting over 100 million tonnes of freight and moving over 21
billion net tonne-kilometres of freight per annum, equivalent
to more than nine million lorry journeys. Since 1995, EWS has
invested some £750 million in new rolling stock, equipment
and systems and together with that from other industry partners,
the total commitment in rail freight from private sector sources
is roundly £1 billion. This investment is continuing andalong
with supportive Government transport and land-use planning policieshas
helped rail freight's business to grow by 51% over the last six
years, thus increasing rail's share of the UK surface freight
market (ie road + rail) from under 6% to 11% today. Latest data
show that volume growth is continuing at 8% per annum. This makes
the rail freight industry well placed to meet the Government's
target of 80% growth by 2010, as a means of reducing the impact
of road congestion on the UK economy and environment.
2. EWS IN THE
EWS is a significant stake-holder in the North
of England, employing over 2,300 skilled and professional staff
at thirty locations. Activities include train driving, yard staffing,
locomotive and wagon maintenance, real-time operations, finance,
administration and marketing. Our train operations nation-wide
are supervised by the recently-enlarged Customer Service Delivery
Centre (CSDC) at Doncaster. The centre employs 650 staff and makes
EWS one of the biggest employers in an area where many jobs have
been lost from traditional industries in recent years. Marketing
and regional operations in the North West are managed from our
offices at Warrington. EWS has a five-year, £200 million
contract with the Thrall Europa to supply us with over two thousand
new high-capacity freight wagons, that has provided a steady workload
for their factory at York. The Wabtec Rail factory at Doncaster
continues to benefit from orders for rebuilt and refurbished wagons.
EWS serves much of the North of England's industry
and business, ranging from mines, quarries, oil refineries and
ports to iron and steel works, power stations, factories and warehouses.
Freight is moved into, out from and within the North of England
using the extensive rail network. International links are made
through East and West Coast ports and EWS operates the freight
trains which travel direct to and from the rest of Europe via
the Channel Tunnel. Trainloads of bulk commodities (such as coal,
ore, oil and crushed rock) typically have payloads in excess of
1,400 tonnesthe equivalent of 60 full-size lorryloads.
The continuing success of rail freight in the
region is dependent on the resolution of a number of national
Safeguarding the public sector share
of the £4 billion investment in rail freight, promised in
the Government's 10 Year Plan for Transport.
Independent regulation of the industry.
Retaining the 80% target for rail
Proper recognition of rail freight's
economic and environmental benefits.
No vertical integration of rail operations
with infrastructure maintenance.
A fit-for-purpose rail network, including
a successor to Railtrack that recognises and responds to customers'
3. SERVING KEY
3.1 Power generation
The movement by rail of coal to power stations
remains vital to the economy of the North of England. Its importance
is shown by our continuing investment in coal wagons and supporting
systems. Earlier in June, EWS announced a further order worth
nearly £20 million with the Thrall Car Company for more high-capacity,
high-speed coal hopper wagons. These will bring the EWS fleet
to well over 1,000. Thanks to the higher operating speed and load
efficiency of these wagons compared with the equipment being replaced,
EWS is able to move the same tonnage of coal with fewer trains,
thus releasing scarce track capacity for future growth.
Rail plays an integral role in the iron and
steel industry. Direct connections to works on Teesside, at Scunthorpe
and in South Yorkshire help EWS to move in bulk feedstock such
as ore, coal, coke, scrap and limestone and take out semi-finished
and finished steel products. Several flows are inter-works movements
where rail is effectively part of the production line: the EWS
"Steelwheel" service moves steel billet from the Corus
plant at Scunthorpe to their Aldwarke mill, and the EWS "SteelBridge"
flow between AvestaPolarit's Tinsley plant and their Swedish rolling
mill via the DFDS terminal at AEP's port of lmmingham. Recent
rationalisation of the industry have seen rail's involvement evolve:
EWS now operates several trains a day moving bulk steel for Corus
from Scunthorpe to Llanwern.
3.3 Petroleum and chemicals
With support from the SRA's Freight Grant unit,
direct rail access to Ineos Chlor Chemical's Runcorn plant was
restored in March 2002 and EWS now moves caustic soda to Scotland.
In April 2002, EWS commenced an intermodal service for TDG between
Grangemouth and Trafford Park which conveys a range of products
including petro-chemicals. Such flows are vital links in the production
process and depend upon rail's reliability.
EWS moves large volumes of cars and car components,
both exports and imports. In the North of England, EWS has been
chosen by Jaguar to deliver its new X-type sports saloon from
their Halewood plant to the Continent via the Channel Tunnel and
the USA via Southampton. We also move cars on behalf of Nissan
from the Port of Tyne to destinations on the Continent via the
3.5 Premium freight
Industry and business throughout the North of
England are served by the high-speed trains operated by EWS which
convey time-sensitive mail and parcels. A network of trains links
the region with the rest of the UK, operating at speeds of up
to 110 mph. Plans are well-advanced to raise this to 125 mph.
Several key centres are served as well as three purpose-built
facilities at Warrington, Doncaster and Gateshead.
4. A RAILWAY
If EWS is to serve North of England's industry
safely and reliably and to grow this activity in line with Government
policy, then it is essential that the railway network provides
the necessary capacity and capability. On many routessuch
as the West Coast Main Line the East Coast Main Linerecent
growth in both freight and passenger traffic has meant that they
are now operating close to their capacity for much of the day.
This makes it difficult for EWS to obtain additional slots to
cater for new business, and also makes train working more vulnerable
EWS has invested heavily in new equipment such
as faster, more powerful locomotives and high-capacity wagons
which allow us to operate longer faster trains which make more
efficient use of limited capacity. The SRA and Railtrack must
play their part by providing additional infrastructure capacity
so that more freight trains can run.
4.1 West Coast Main Line.
This is the single most important UK mainline
and is used by over 43% of all freight trains, particularly those
conveying long-distance domestic and international traffic to
and from the North West and Scotland. As the up grade project
proceeds, EWS has been in close discussion with the SRA to ensure
that present freight capacity is safe-guarded and future expansion
of freight can be accommodated. We believe that enhanced capacity
on the West Coast Main Line will require additional infrastructure,
improved timetabling, upgraded traction, improved track standards
(permitting higher speeds), a sympathetic maintenance strategy
and fit-for-purpose diversionary routes.
4.2 East Coast Main Line.
Unlike the West Coast Main Line up grade project,
EWS has been able to participate in the East Coast Main Line up
grade planning process from an early stage. We are happy that
some of the lessons from the WCML project have been learned. The
agreed specification should receive its share of the funding promised
in the Government's 10 Year Plan for Transport and the agreed
additional freight capacity (such as the reopened Leamside line
and the upgraded Doncaster-Lincoln-Sleaford-Peterborough route)
should be made available before any substantial increase in passenger
services takes place.
4.3 South Humber Main Line.
Some 20% of all UK freight tonnage is handled
by the line between Immingham, Scunthorpe and South Yorkshire.
Freight volumes continues to grow, to a large extent due to investment
by Associated British Ports in rail facilities at Immingham, but
the present infrastructure is acting as a constraint due to speed
restrictions and signalling and other line capacity limitations.
Investment is urgently required to address these issues by making
some 30% more train pathways available, raising line-speeds and
re-opening the route linking South Humberside with Gainsborough.
4.4 Trans-Pennine routes.
Four lines link the North West with the North
East and Yorkshire. Of these, the Manchester-Sheffield "Hope
Valley" and Manchester-Leeds lines are in need of additional
capacity and improved clearances respectively. Proposals by the
SRA to increase passenger services on these routes but with modest
infrastructure enhancements threaten to constrain the flexibility
of existing freight operations and restrict future growth unless
this work is carried out.
4.5 North West.
Capacity in key parts of the railway network
in Greater Manchester and Merseyside is barely adequate. The continued
growth of bulk coal, steel scrap, finished steel and containers
through Liverpool Docks requires the reinstatement of a north-to-east
connection at Edge Hill so that trains may run direct to and from
the port without reversal. Access to the EWS international intermodal
railhead at Trafford Park is through Manchester Piccadilly station
and is restricted to one freight train per hour.
EWS efforts to increase train lengths in order
to make better use of this very limited capacity depend upon the
provision of upgraded trackwork at Trafford Park so that train
speeds can be increased.
5. ACCESS TO
Fourteen of the North of England's ports have
rail facilities and serve their hinterland via the UK rail network.
Almost all have regular EWS freight trains while the remainder
is available for rail use at short notice. Included are three
of the UK's top 10 ports in terms of tonnage handled: Grimsby
& Immingham (1st) Tees & Hartlepool (2nd) and Liverpool
(8th). lmmingham is the single biggest generator of EWS business
and with these other two ports, provides 25% of our business by
volume. A wide range of freight is handled through North of England
ports, ranging from bulk commodities such as coal and iron ore
to bulk finished products such as steel and chemical feedstock
and high-value finished goods such as new cars, specialist steel,
and newsprint. EWS moves these by a combination of block trains
and shared-user services, the latter using Warrington and Doncaster
as regional hubs.
Several ports in the North of England also play
a role as railheads where freight is purely trans-shipped between
rail and road. Ports have many of the attributes of successful
rail freight terminals: good road and rail access, skilled staff
and handling equipment, and covered and open storage capacity.
The Ports of Tyne and Workington have grown their trans-shipment
business substantially over the last decade from almost nothing
to become key sub-regional railheads. Close working relationships
with the North of England's ports have helped rail to play a bigger
part in their business: investment by the port companies in railway
access and facilities on their estate is vital to this and matches
the commitment made by EWS in new locomotives and rolling stock
and by the SRA in improved rail infrastructure.
For rail freight to thrive and expand, access
to customers is essential. Most of the North of England's oil
refineries, coal-fired power stations, coal mines and steel works
have direct rail access, as do some larger quarries and chemical
plants. These rail connections eliminate the need for intermediate
road movements between railhead and customer's site and keep millions
of lorry journeys off the North of England's roads every year.
Many end-users have insufficient volumes of
business to justify their own direct rail access and are reached
instead via shared-user railheads with the final stage being made
by road. A number of these facilities have been established in
the North of England, such as those at Doncaster (ADL), Knowsley
and Selby (Potter Group), Salford (Creative Logistics), Widnes
(AHC and O'Connor) and Wakefield (Cobra). In February 2002, EWS
lodged a planning application for a £65 million road-rail
distribution hub at Tinsley, serving South Yorkshire. As well
as removing thousands of lorry journeys from the region's roads,
the scheme will provide over 1,000 new jobs and give the local
and regional economies a major boost.
5.3 Channel Tunnel
As the European Union expands and as manufacturing
and distribution becomes more globally-based, the need for the
North of England to have fast, efficient and reliable access to
the continent andvia deep-water portsthe rest of
the world. With road congestion increasingboth in the North
and also further south such as in the West Midlands and Greater
Londonthe importance of rail freight is growing. EWS serves
the North of England's ports, while through freight trains access
the rest of Europe via the Channel Tunnel. These Channel Tunnel
trains serve the EWS intermodal railheads at Trafford Park (serving
the North West) and Wakefield (serving Yorkshire) as well as several
other freight terminals for freight moved in conventional wagons.
Since November 2001, these services have been severely disrupted
by the attempts of asylum seekers to gain entry to the UK, despite
every effort on the part of EWS and its customers to persuade
the Government to tackle the problem through its opposite numbers
in France. Latest proposals by the French government promise action
but not until November 2002far too late.
EWS will be happy to discuss these issues in
7 June 02