High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from DB Schenker Rail UK Ltd (HSR 75)

1.  DB Schenker Rail is pleased to submit evidence to the Transport Committee's Inquiry into the Strategic Case for High Speed Rail. Our evidence focuses on:

(a)  The experience of freight and High Speed One.

(b)  The strategic importance of additional UK rail capacity for rail freight growth.

We would be pleased to provide oral evidence to the Committee if required.

2.  DB Schenker Rail is the largest UK rail freight operator. DB Schenker Rail moves around 80 million tonnes / 10 billion tonne kilometres of freight a year and employs 3500 staff in Great Britain. Besides transporting coal for electricity generation, steel and petroleum, we move stone, deep-sea containers and operate international freight services through the Channel Tunnel in connection with our open access freight business in France and Spain. DB Schenker Rail is wholly owned by Deutsche Bahn AG, the second largest logistics provider in the world.

3.  Rail freight produces between three and four times less CO2 per tonne moved than road haulage and up to ten times less polluting emissions. Whilst rail must continue to reduce its own carbon footprint, its primary contribution to Climate Change is to continue to attract traffic from more polluting modes.

4.  Rail freight in Britain has been one of the success stories of privatisation and has grown by over 60% in the last fourteen years, increasing its surface market share from 8% to 11.5%. At the same time the industry has become more efficient with DB Schenker Rail having reduced key asset numbers and costs by over 30% in the past five years. Although rail freight volumes reduced during the recession, the industry continues to invest in the firm expectation that absolute growth, as well as increased market share, are achievable.

5.  Rail freight industry forecasts, endorsed by the Department for Transport and Network Rail, suggest a doubling of rail freight activity by 2030. The rail industry's "Planning Ahead" document anticipates an increase in rail freight's market share from 11.5% to 20%. Growth in rail freight will form a key input to the rail industry's Initial Industry Plan that will inform both the forthcoming Periodic Review by the Office of Rail Regulation and be part of the industry's response to the McNulty Value for Money report.

6.  Increasing rail's market share is perfectly feasible—critical to this will be both the development of both new terminals and the Strategic Freight Network (see http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/strategyfinance/strategy/freightnetwork. ). The West Coast Main Line is a key artery of the Strategic Freight Network and growth on the WCML is vital to achieving the growth forecasts for freight. The experience of rail freight and High Speed One.


7.  The proposals for freight on High Speed Two are similar to those that have applied to High Speed One:

(a)  The infrastructure was designed to accommodate some level of continental gauge freight traffic (eg freight loops, connections at Dollands Moor & Barking).

(b)  Potential traffics were assumed to be higher speed than conventional international rail freight, for example mail or express traffic.

(c)  Operation of freight trains would be only at night, possibly under single line working conditions, whilst the infrastructure was maintained.

8.  Technical barriers to the operation of freight on HS1 are finally in the process of being overcome and one Class 92 locomotive has been successfully modified to operate on HS1. Trials are underway and it is anticipated that some level of night-time continental gauge freight service will commence between the Channel Tunnel and east London during 2011.

9.  These are likely to be at a conventional speed of 75mph initially and possibly at a lower speed of 60mph in due course. There have been technical issues to overcome with the cab signalling system to operate at these speeds, but with the assistance of EU Marco Polo funding these are being overcome.

10.  One lesson from HS1 is that High Speed Lines may turn out to offer genuine opportunities for conventional speed freight (75mph or even 60mph) as well as higher speed freight and it would be unwise to rule these out at this stage.

11.  DB Schenker Rail therefore supports:

(a)  making the infrastructure of High Speed 2 freight-compatible and ensuring there is passive capability provision for freight;

(b)  making operations on High Speed 2 compatible with those on High Speed 1 and the Channel Tunnel wherever possible—for example the cab signalling system; and

(c)  physically linking High Speed 1 to High Speed 2 to offer continental gauge freight opportunities from the Channel Tunnel to the Midlands and, potentially, the North.


12.  DB Schenker Rail agrees that the most significant benefit for the UK rail freight industry and its customers from High Speed Two would lie in the capacity a new line would release to support growth in freight operations on the West Coast Main Line and other existing routes.

13.  Whilst we welcome the prospect of additional capacity being made available through the construction of HS2, this will be of less use if it does not align with paths through to north west England and Scotland.

Although we expect growth in services on West Coast south, particularly in the domestic sector, growth from the deep sea ports at Southampton and Felixstowe joins the corridor in the West Midlands area and is unlikely to benefit significantly until HS2 is open as far as Manchester.

14.  However without significant additional capacity on the WCML, the industry's plans for modal shift will be severely constrained. Each intermodal freight train on the WCML replaces up to 112 lorry journeys—the equivalent of up to 30,000 lorry journeys per annum for each train.

15.  Modal shift between road and rail using the released capacity on the WCML can therefore play a key role in promoting sustainable transport and helping the UK meet its carbon reduction targets.

May 2011

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Prepared 8 November 2011