Examination of Witnesses (Questions 8660
8660. I will then conclude by listing a few
concerns of the Petitioners and asking your Committee, based on
the evidence which I hope we are going to hear today, to require
the Promoters to give certain undertakings to Parliament.
8661. That is the end of my introduction, my
Lord Chairman. I would be pleased now to call my first witness,
James Hookham of the Freight Transport Association. Could we see
Slide 1, please.
HOOKHAM, Sworn Examined
by LORD BERKELEY
8662. LORD BERKELEY: Mr Hookham, can
you please first explain who are the FTA, what do they represent
and your position and experience within the organisation?
The Freight Transport Association is one of Britain's biggest
and longest established trade associations. We have 14,000 businesses
in membership, all of them with an interest in the safe, efficient
and sustainable movement of freight using all the modes of transport.
FTA members include, importantly, users and prospective users
of rail freight. Our members include the major retailers, the
construction sector, oil and chemicals companies, manufacturers
in the food consumer goods and industrial sectors, as well as
the carriers and logistics providers of freight in road, rail,
sea and air sectors. Our members' primary concern is the efficient
movement of goods through supply chains from points of origin
to final consumption. In the rail freight sector, our members
consign over 90 per cent of the freight moved by rail, and include
the rail freight operating companies, logistics intermediaries
and, as I have said, importantly existing and prospective users
of rail freight. My name is James Hookham, and I have held the
position of Policy Director for the FTA for over ten years.
8663. If we turn to slide 2 can you please give
the Committee an overview of the importance of freight traffic
to the UK, particularly imports through our major ports?
(Mr Hookham) Slide 2 shows forecast growth
in imports by sea into the UK over the next ten years up to about
2015. These data have been generated from the GB Freights model
developed by MDS Transmodal that Mr Garratt will be explaining
later in our evidence. This slide shows three marked changes in
import behaviour which we are expecting over this time period.
There will be a continued reliance on: imported coal for electricity
generation that is expected to be berthed at the Humber Ports,
particularly Immingham; increases in cross-channel traffic resulting
in growth of ferry services through Dover, and over the Dover
Straits; and, a particular concern today, significant increases
through the container ports, particularly of Felixstowe, Southampton
and the London ports in the Thames Estuary. A marked trend in
the past 15 years or so of the UK economy has been an outsourcing
of manufacturing from the UK to other parts of the world.
8664. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: Could
you just tell us, is this graph supposed to be showing us tonnage,
or is it units of freight?
My Lord, this is tonnage through the ports. As you have asked
me, perhaps I should explain that there are three bars for each
port; the first shows the tonnage in 2005, the second in 2010
and the third in 2015.
8665. LORD BERKELEY: It also demonstrates
just how heavy coal is compared with containers too.
I think it is important to understand the context in which we
are discussing this. Growth in important consumer goods, predominantly
in containers, is a result of this significant outsourcing of
manufacturing capacity to other parts of the world. The reason
for that is to take advantage of cheaper labour and production
costs. As a result, those consumer goods have fallen in real terms.
That has made them more affordable to UK consumers; and the net
effect is to see significant growth in the imports of these products
back into the country.
8666. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: Mr Hookham,
it would be very helpful if you just take one small example of
either, say, Plymouth or Poole, and tell us what actual tonnage
that represents so that we have got some sort of measurement in
our minds of what the other bigger items would indicate.
8667. LORD BERKELEY: Poole is a very
difficult one; it is so small, is it not?
8668. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: Pick
any one you know ofyour choice. We just want something
on which to hang an understanding of this.
8669. LORD BERKELEY: If it would be helpful,
the best one is probably to take the Haven Ports one which we
will be discussing. One of my forthcoming witnesses, Andrew Cann,
has actually got all those figures. I think, Mr Hookham, this
is designed to show a comparison and it is a very small scale.
Mr Cann can definitely answer these questions.
8670. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: It would
be helpful to have it.
8671. LORD BERKELEY: Mr Hookham, could
we possibly move on to slide 3.
Could you explain how important this container traffic is to the
future of our economy? Is it related to any permissions that the
Government has given for new port capacity for container traffic?
(Mr Hookham) This trend in growth of imported
consumer goods is hardwired now into the British economy. Notwithstanding
any current uncertainties in financial markets and economic growth,
all planning assumptions made by Government and businesses expect
this trend to continue and, indeed, to grow. The granting of permissions
for developments at ports that Lord Berkeley has mentioned we
take to be evidence that the Government accepts these trends and,
indeed, the forecast generated by the GB Freight model.
8672. Mr Hookham, I did not actually mention
any ports. Could you mention the ports?
(Mr Hookham) By all means. The key ports
at which these container goods are landed are at Felixstowe on
the east coast, at Southampton, and at the London ports, some
of which are under development and expected to come on-stream
during the time horizon we are discussing.
8673. Finally, Lord James has asked a question
about tonnages, and I know other noble Lords will probably ask
questions about the difference between different types of boxes,
because I think there is a difference between a deep-sea box and
a box coming across from the Continent and any other type of box.
I think it is important that we establish that before we get any
(Mr Hookham) I hope that these graphs
and representations are adequately demonstrating the trends and
economic context in which the latter cases pertaining particularly
to Crossrail will be developed. I think there are some important
changes which I should stress. There are other routes by which
freight does enter into the countrythese are shown in the
graph. A lot of freight enters into the country in unitised form
over the Dover Straits, either by ferry or through the Channel
Tunnel. Some of this traffic is deep-sea containers unloaded on
the Continent and transhipped into the UK by road or by rail.
You can see the dramatic growth expected through the Port of Dover
and through the Channel Tunnel terminals at Folkestone, compared
to the other ferry ports. A lot of this traffic is also swap-body
traffic. A swap-body looks very similar to an inter-modal container
but its most important feature is that it cannot be stacked. This
makes it unsuitable for carriage by container but ideally suited
to carriage and transfer between road and rail modes.
8674. It has got floppy sides effectively, or
it could have?
(Mr Hookham) Indeed, which allows for
unloading from the side, which is an important feature of most
freight terminals, rather than unloading through the rear doors.
Just one other important trend which does pertain to the Crossrail
issues, is that there has been an increase in the design height
of containers from originally eight foot six to nine foot six.
This may seem a small, almost insignificant change in dimension
but, nevertheless, is real and is a result of the desire to carry
higher volume goods; but these greater heights do limit the rail
routes along which these bigger containers can be moved due to
loading gauge restrictions. Our estimate is that by about 2012
almost half of the deep-sea containers arriving in the UK are
expected to be at this higher height. It is the lack of adequate
route capacity for these bigger containers that requires, for
example, these bigger containers being landed at Felixstowe to
have to travel via London in order to access the Midlands and
the north of the country.
8675. Finally, what is the importance of rail
freight as opposed to road freight, or any other type of freight,
to your members?
(Mr Hookham) As I have explained, many
FTA members are either existing users of rail or, importantly,
prospective users of rail. They represent the markets that rail
freight aims to win in the future. They see rail freight as an
important means of reducing supply chain costs, and certainly
in the emerging debates about how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions
compared to road transport. Rail freight, however, does compete
for space on the rail network with a fast-growing passenger railway,
and that is the debate we are having today. Existing and prospective
users of rail freight need to be assured by Government that freight
services will continue to enjoy guaranteed access rights to the
network so that their decisions to make investments and to switch
modes of transport are secure. The risk of these rights being
withdrawn will weaken the confidence and jeopardise the Government's
own targets for modal shift.
8676. LORD BERKELEY: Thank you very much,
Mr Hookham, that is all I have to ask.
Cross-examined by MR
8677. MR ELVIN: Mr Hookham, you will
appreciate, representing as I do the Secretary of State for Transport,
that there is no issue between us over the importance of rail
freight and making appropriate provision for growth in rail freight;
and that of course is an objective of Government, as is Crossrail.
May I just ask you a few questions of clarification. Your slides
show in the three bars effectively growth in freight, particularly
from the ports, over three periods leading up to 2015. Mr Garratt
presented a report to the ORR, and indeed there is a report before
this Committee, dealing with growth. Are your figures consistent
Indeed they are.
8678. So they are figures that were available
to and taken into account by the Rail Regulator when reaching
a decision on the Crossrail Access Option?
(Mr Hookham) I must presume so.
8679. Looking at the list of appearances, your
organisation did not appear at the hearing that was held by the
ORR in February?
(Mr Hookham) I believe we were represented.
2 Committee Ref: A52, Freight Transport Association
Committee Ref: A52, The main growth will be in deep sea container
ports, and strong growth in traffic through Humber and Dover (LINEWD-34_05-003) Back
Committee Ref: A52, Growth of container traffic focused on Felixstowe,
Southampton and London (LINEWD-34_05-004) Back