A key way to unlock more rail freight lies in the planning system.
That's the claim of Railfuture, the national group that campaigns for greater use of rail transport. Their new report sets out how Britain can plan for the new industrial and distribution centres which are needed to get more of our long-distance freight moving by rail.
"As a country, we face an urgent need to reduce the environmental impact of freight transport, and this requires more of our freight to move by rail rather than road" said Philip Bisatt, Vice-Chair of Railfuture's Freight Group. "We therefore need to positively create the conditions which rail needs if it is to handle a greater share of Britain's freight. A key aspect of this is to build the country's industry and warehousing on sites where it can be connected to the rail network. Unfortunately, in too many cases this is not currently happening. Businesses find that they cannot get easy access to rail transport, and developers wanting to build rail terminals face obstacles created by the planning system. We need government, business Local Enterprise Partnerships, councils and the rail industry to sit down round the table and plan a sensible way forward - the knowledge is out there, so it's not too much to ask".
The report sets out several steps that are needed, including revising the National Planning Policy Framework to encourage development of suitable sites, and setting up regional teams of experts to identify where future developments might best take place. The report draws on previous research suggesting that investors need greater certainty and clarity from government at all levels if they are to make the necessary financial commitment to rail freight.
"We've identified a number of brown field sites and existing industrial complexes where rail freight could have been used had proper provision been made at the planning stage. This is never a problem with road – after all, no company would move onto an industrial site without road access – so why has it been legitimate to omit access by rail?”
The report can be downloaded at
Notes to editors:
Railfuture is the UK's leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services for both passengers and freight.
Railfuture's website can be found at: www.railfuture.org.uk
Follow Railfuture on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Railfuture
For further information and comment please contact:
Bruce Williamson, media spokesman
Tel: 0117 927 2954 Mobile: 07759 557389
media at railfuture.org.uk