Rail Freight Group (RFG) is pleased to respond to the National Infrastructure Commission consultation Congestion, Capacity, Carbon: Priorities for National Infrastructure.
RFG strongly supports the concept of the National Infrastructure Commission, to provide a holistic and long term assessment of the infrastructure needs of the country. Rail freight has a strong interest in transport infrastructure but also in other sectors which can influence demand for its services, such as energy and ports. A stable and coherent planning basis is therefore an essential part of developing rail freight and building investor confidence in our sector.
To that end, we are particularly pleased with the newly announced study on Freight Transport. This has a strong remit, and will be instrumental in raising understanding of the importance of freight, as well as looking at future needs and challenges. We have already had an initial meeting with the NIC and look forward to providing other input to the study over coming months.
It has been unfortunate that the Freight Study was announced somewhat after the publication of this consultation. The consultation text, along with some recent coverage on Twitter, has raised some serious concerns in the rail freight sector over the Commission’s approach and its impartiality. We have already written setting out these concerns, and we welcome your response to that letter with its assurances on future approach. However it remains the case that the draft text has damaged confidence which must now be rebuilt as the study progresses.
We would strongly suggest that the final National Infrastructure Assessment should not be published until the conclusions of the freight study are known, or if necessary, should take a holding position. The current rhetoric on rail freight should not be duplicated in the final report.
Download the response in full at the link below: