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TSSA tells TUC to "Get Eco About Freight"

14 September 2016

TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes this morning told TUC conference Britain needs "to get green" about the British rail freight industry.


He also lambasted the Department for Transport's Rail Freight Strategy published yesterday (Tues) as "typically short-sighted" and "unhelpful" and argued that the Government must use all tools at their disposal to get freight on rail.

Speaking in Brighton he criticised the government for considering further sell off of Network Rail land in major cities which would be better reserved for the development of rail cargo terminals.

"Nothing could show that this government is still going full steam ahead with its privatisation/fragmentation agenda than yesterday's report for the future of the rail freight industry.

"How we intend to transport our commodities around the country must be the backbone of an integrated, joined-up economic, industrial and environmental strategy with the constant support of the DfT.

"Freight carriers have been hit hard by the fall off in shifting coal which ten years ago made 75pc of its cargo but is now just 50pc.This spare capacity offers a golden opportunity to get containers off HGV wagons on our roads and onto rail so reducing commodity-miles and carbon footprint of goods as they are transported to their place of sale.

"A strategy to make this a reality is needed but yesterday's DfT announcement was a travesty and offloaded responsibility to the industry and told it to "do more to sell its collective benefits.

"This is another industry that privatisation has poisoned. And more market solutions will continue to fail it which is why we support public ownership of rail freight so we can direct and plan the shift of good off our roads.

"We need to be doing all we can to get HGVs off congested roads and rail is the eco solution. 23 freight trains runout of Felixstowe port each day taking 1610 HGVs off the M25 corridor every day.

"HGVs are responsible for 17pc of all CO2 emissions from traffic yet they make up just 5pc of the total number of vehicles on the roads and the congestion they cause is estimated to cost business £24 billion each year.

"It's a no brainer to get eco about freight. But the government is forcing Network rail to cannibalise itself and to consider selling huge amounts of its own land to make up for falling revenues. This land is currently a national asset which could and should be developed as both city centre and out-of-town cargo depots.

"TSSA supports returning the rail freight industry to public ownership to stop the rot and facilitate sustainable and long-term growth in the sector and secure future rail freight capacity.

"And we call will on the General Council today to join the campaign to stop Network Rail, a publicly owned company, from further sell-off of sites containing operational rail freight depots so we can hold them for future strategic freight terminals and begin to reverse the undermining of the industry’s prospects.”



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