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Revolution in rail plans backed by Logistics UK
The recommendations of the long-awaited White Paper for rail reform – Great British Railways: The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail – have been strongly endorsed by Logistics UK.
The multimodal business group has said that the plans outlined in the report are essential for the future of rail freight, and the creation of a single body – Great British Railways – will help to embed freight into decision making.
REPORT NAME REFLECTS ITS EVOLUTION
The review was originally commissioned from Keith Williams by the Department of Transport in 2018. Following delays in publication, partly caused by the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps helped bring the review up to date to reflect the effects of the pandemic on the future rail network. In April, Shapps’ contribution was formally recognised when the White Paper was renamed Great British Railways: The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail.
JOINED-UP THINKING FOR FREIGHT
“The creation of Great British Railways should lead to more unified decisions for freight, which has been disadvantaged by complex systems of decision making involving various different rail bodies,” said Elizabeth de Jong, Director of Policy at Logistics UK.
PUTTING FREIGHT ON AN EQUAL FOOTING
Logistics UK argues that the government’s ambition to promote the use of rail freight is a positive step towards putting freight services on an equal footing to passenger services.
“It is crucial that this ambition is delivered to enable the freight sector to grow and achieve its full potential,” said Elizabeth de Jong, “The industry needs a strategic vision for freight and Logistics UK hopes that the creation of Great British Railways’ national freight co-ordination team will ensure this becomes a core priority.”
WORKING WITH THE RAIL FREIGHT SECTOR
Logistics UK is now scrutinising the details of these plans and will work with Great British Railways and the Department for Transport on the reform process.
Elizabeth de Jong concluded: “While some uncertainty remains over how the new body will work in practice, the rail freight sector will work together to ensure it meets the needs of logistics businesses.”
PASSENGER DEMAND FALLS, FREIGHT PROVES RESILIENT
In their joint foreword to the report, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Keith Williams reaffirmed their commitment to rail, despite the fall off in passenger demand, and acknowledged the resilience of the rail freight sector.
“Rail freight was heavily impacted at first but has recovered rapidly, demonstrating its agility,” they said, “But commuting and business travel may never be quite the same again.
“This government profoundly believes in the future of the railways. Without them, our cities could not function, critical freight connections would be cut off, carbon emissions and pollution would rise, and mobility would fall.”
Published On: 27/05/2021 17:00:32