Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Freight on Rail (CHT15)

RAIL FREIGHT AND THE CHANNEL TUNNEL

  Freight on Rail is a partnership between transport trades unions, freight operating companies, Railtrack, the Rail Freight Group and Transport 2000. It works to promote the economic, social and environmental benefits of rail freight both nationally and locally. It advocates policy changes that support the shift to rail and provides information and help on freight related issues. In particular, it aims to help local authorities through all stages of the process such as planning a rail-freight strategy, accessing grants and dealing with technical matters

  The members are as follows:—

  Rail Freight Group, EWS, Freightliner, Railtrack, RMT, ASLEF, TSSA and Transport 2000

  Freight on Rail believes that the continuing Channel Tunnel rail freight service disruption, which began last November, is threatening the viability of international rail freight through the Channel Tunnel and putting thousands of jobs at risk. The UK and French Governments' failure to resolve the security and policing arrangements is having a devastating effect on the reputation of international rail freight services with consequent knock-on effects on the British economy. International rail freight services through the Channel Tunnel, built up over the past 10 years, are now being seriously undermined by continuing uncertainty.

  The Government's 10-Year Transport Plan targets a growth in rail freight of 80%. This will not be realised without continued development of international freight traffic through the Channel Tunnel.

  Earlier this month after restrictions for six months, EWS estimated that:—

  OVER 2,600 SERVICES LOST TO BRITISH INDUSTRY

  EWS LOSSES INCREASE TO OVER £10 MILLION

  OVER 90,000 MORE LORRY JOURNEYS ON BRITISH AND EUROPEAN ROADS WITH THE RESULTING ROAD CONGESTION AND POLLUTION

  Channel Tunnel rail freight services have now been severely restricted for almost seven months, since the French Authorities first reduced the level of operations on 7 November 2001. This is despite assurances by the French and British Governments in March 2002 that they would ensure a "rapid return to normal service".

  The British Government must demand from the French Government the essential security and policing at Fréthun. The current schedule of policing support is inadequate and ineffective.

  The disruption has created an obstacle to the free movement of goods as SNCF has been forced to reduce, or at times suspend, northbound rail freight traffic in the Channel Tunnel. France's failure to prevent such actions puts it in breach of its EC obligations.

  Losses incurred by the rail freight industry are enormous and have knock on effects throughout the country, often in the less prosperous parts of the UK, most dependent on these services. The collapse of international rail freight would lead to long-term economic damage and further road congestion and pollution.

Philippa Edmunds

Freight on Rail

30 May 2002


 
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