Memorandum by The Potter Group (CHT 03)
1. The Potter Group have three large independent
Rail Freight Terminals at
SelbyNorth East Yorkshire64 acres.
KnowsleyMerseyside36 acres plus
(27 acres for expansion).
We are and have been very much at the forefront
of promoting freight on rail, particularly from Europe utilising
the Channel Tunnel.
2. The process of encouraging customers
to consider using rail freight is a long and difficult process.
It can take up to two years due to the fact customers already
have freight arrangements in place, often contracted for a period
They really have to be convinced that rail freight
can make a difference to their operations. Please remember The
Potter Group have been in rail freight for over 20 years, it is
far from being easy and certainly we are having success. This
is only due to our determination as well as having a policy to
invest, which enable the customer to have more confidence that
we shall be able to meet their demanding requirements.
Let us remember what it is that customers are
(a) A very reliable quality service.
(c) Environmentally friendly transport.
3. Customers already enjoy a good service
so why should they consider changing to rail, particularly if
you consider for over the last two years rail in general has not
had a good press. This has had a detrimental effect on rail freight.
The problems with the Channel Tunnel really
came to a head on 5 November 2001 when the number of trains dropped
from approximately 20 per night to just four, due to the problems
of the illegal immigrants.
This continued the same until January, for a
short period it improved a little, then in mid March 2002 it stopped
4. The problem all along is that our customers
could no longer rely on the Channel Tunnel service, so alternative
transport arrangements have had to be made.
The reason being the normal service level agreed
is that :
Day 1 Load and despatch from Europe.
Day 2 Travel.
Day 3 Delivery and unload at The Potter
Group Rail Terminals.
We all know when goods are despatched but we
must be able to rely on when goods arrive. We recently had a consignment
of paper which we were told would arrive after being held up for
10 days. The result being extra costs incurred and having to send
other products by road.
Why should customers have to put up with this
sort of service along with all the stress these disruptions cause?
The outcome is approximately 6,000 lorries a
week coming via Channel Tunnel, because this section has not been
affected, or by ferry.
The results being that we "the UK Ltd"
lose out on several counts:
(a) These lorries buy their entire diesel
in France at a cheaper price.
(b) Vehicle Excise Dutyagain there
are no payments made in the UK.
(c) Jobs are affected in the UK. They are
not allowing the UK transport industry to feed to and from the
freight terminals. The Rail Terminals, particularly at PG Ely
who used to operate 24 hours a day on a three-shift working system
now have reduced to two shifts with the loss of jobs. The remainder
of the workforce are on minimum working hours which is not sustainable
because they will leave and find alternative work.
(d) Investment in private rail facilities.
The Potter Group are at the forefront of trying to help the Government
encourage freight back onto rail as The Strategic Rail Authority
have clearly defined that they wish freight on rail to grow by
80% over the next 10 years. This will only be achievable if we
invest. We have invested very, very large amounts of money in
our open access rail freight terminals so that it makes them fit
for this purpose.
We have been let down very much as a result
of the Channel Tunnel problems, which we all know are nothing
to do with industry. This is clearly a political problem.
We all appreciate that confidence in rail is
at a very low ebb at this current time. We strongly feel we in
the industry have been trying to help our customers achieve their
and our goals, but we are being seriously disadvantaged, despite
our continued efforts.
5. To give an idea of the types of traffic
affected by the Channel Tunnel we list below some details.
Loss of Business from Potter Group Ely
|Brive, Southern France|
|Product Qty||900 tonnes Paper per week
|PG delivery to customer||
|Now being railed to Northern France then put onto road vehicles for delivery to the UK.
|Product Qty||500 tonnes Paper per week
|Product Qty||200 tonnes Paper per week
|Normally this customer would deliver 60,000 tonnes per year
|Product Qty||50 tonnes Lard per week
|Product Qty||1,000 tonnes Bottled Water per week.
Loss of Business from PG Knowsley
|Gluntz, Germany||300 tonnes per week
|Nolte, Germany||500 tonnes per month
|Creilshiem, Germany||80 pallets per day
|Amiens, France||200 pallets per day
The following is potential business for Knowsley:
|Approx 9,000 tonnes per year from Switzerland, Austria and Germany.
|Approx 6,000 pallets per month from Germany.
|11,000 tonnes per year Wallpaper base from Germany
|30,000 pallets per year Tissue paper from Germany
|One rail wagon per week Automotive Product from Italy.
Loss of Business from PG Selby
Approx one wagon per month Lard from Italy
|Approx one to two wagons per month of Animal Food Additive from Germany
|Average of 8-16 wagons per month of Mineral Water from Southern France
6. We therefore strongly recommend the Government to
help us; we cannot take all the continuing financial pain, week
after week, month after month.
What we require therefore is:
A. Financial Support. Bearing in mind even when the tunnel
is brought back into full service freight will take a considerable
amount of time to win back to rail.
B. Fréthun Freight Terminal needs to be properly
policed and the fence made fit for purpose similar to the Euro
Terminal. Inspection of freight trains carried out by the UK staff
currently checking passenger trains at the French Euro Tunnel.
C. A Rail Ferry Service. We need to consider introducing
a rail ferry coming into the UK from Holland, Belgium to say Harwich,
the benefits being:
(1) Chemicals can come this route.
(2) Give confidence to customers there is an alternative
to the Tunnel.
(3) Avoid freight trains having to come from the South
into London. This would be a major plus.
(4) Allow us to service the Northern Europe market
The future of rail freight is in all our hands, we must all
support each other to achieve the goal of 80% freight on rail.
No one section of the Industry or Government will achieve that
on its own.
C D Potter
28 May 2002