RFG Scottish Conference highlights ambition for growth

RFG’s annual Scottish Conference, held this week in Bellshill, highlighted the buoyant market for rail freight in Scotland, and the opportunities for further growth.

Opening the conference, Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity at Scottish Government, said: “I cannot stress enough the opportunity for rail freight in the current environment”. Noting rail freight’s key role in low-carbon logistics, he also noted the case for further electrification and the Scottish Government’s commitment to decarbonising the transport network.

Conference delegates also heard of Network Rail’s progress on delivering rail freight growth in Scotland, and of the progress on new rail schemes including the Mossend International Rail Park and Highland Spring’s terminal at Blackford.

The minister went on to say: “This Scottish Government strongly supports the rail freight industry with significant investment in our railways. Our innovative regulatory freight growth target is aimed at securing new markets and making use of rail attractive to businesses across Scotland.

“We have also given a clear commitment to decarbonise Scotland’s passenger services by 2035 and this includes a rolling programme of efficient electrification. In addition, our dedicated £25m Rail Freight Fund and our Mode Shift Grant support schemes will continue to unlock opportunities for freight operators across the country.

“These benefits would be increased even further with the full electrification of end to end rail freight routes between Scotland and England, with the Department for Transport also needing to play its part,” he added.

Maggie Simpson, RFG Director-General, said: “In Scotland, and across the country, our customers are keen to move more of their goods by rail.  It is great to see the ongoing support from the Scottish Government, which is helping to convert this into additional trains on the network. Modal shift to rail is already helping reduce transport emissions, and we support the Minister’s aims to decarbonise the sector through greater use of electric traction, including on our cross border services.”