Future of Transport website – article by Felicia Gheorgihies
Network Rail has announced in a press release that trade links between the UK and mainland Europe will be strengthened as a vital freight corridor is extended. Known as the Rail Freight Corridor North Sea – Mediterranean, the busy freight corridor will be extended to London by November 2016, which will make it easier to run more freight trains between the UK and mainland Europe.
Network Rail’s freight customers and other European freight operators will be better able to understand and secure available capacity for freight service growth to and from the UK, linking with France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland via the Channel Tunnel.
The extension makes planning freight services simpler and easier through a ‘one-stop shop’ for freight operators to book pre-planned freight paths connecting London with the continent. Operators will also be better informed about infrastructure, maintenance and repair work across the continent as information is more easily shared along the corridor.
The project will also reduce the burden placed by freight movements on the country’s roads. Each freight train carries the equivalent load of 60 lorries and a gallon of fuel will move a tonne of goods 246 miles on rail but only 88 miles by road. These efficiencies make rail freight cleaner and more efficient than road.
“This is good news for Britain’s rail freight industry and our economy. We have been preparing for this for the last few years and I now look forward to working with our partners in the corridor and freight operators to support the growth of rail freight between continental Europe and Great Britain. Our network is extremely busy and we now carry 30 per cent more freight than we did in 2012. We want to grow that figure, strengthening our economy. The RFC North Sea – Med is considered one of the main routes for freight into Europe and is key to that plan,” Paul McMahon, Network Rail freight director, said.
In preparation for the extension, Network Rail has joined as a new member of the RFC North Sea – Mediterranean management board.