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1996-09-19 DoT-001
Department of Transport

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Watts announces major boost for rail freight


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railfreight grants
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Department of Transport

Watts announces major boost for rail freight
_______________________________________________________________


date
19 September 1996
source Department of Transport
type Press release

note 294


In a move designed to boost rail freight and protect the environment,
John Watts, Minister for Railways, Roads and Local Transport, today
announced an increase in grants available for long-distance freight
traffic.

Speaking at the "Investing in Rail Freight" conference in London, Mr
Watts revealed the current "credit" of 5p per mile would increase to
20p for trains which replace lorries on motorways. The higher rate
will apply immediately.

Welcoming the increase, Mr Watts said:

"Freight grants have already been successful in switching freight
from road to rail. In 1994 grants helped move 10 million tonnes - 12
per cent by volume of all railfreight in Britain. The increase I
have announced today will reinforce that success by making more
schemes for long-distance railfreight eligible for grant."

"This is good news for the environment and good news for industry
which increasingly sees rail as a real alternative to the road
network for meeting transport needs."

Also in the pipeline are proposals to streamline application
procedures in order to improve grant take-up, and provide speedier
assistance for more ventures. The Department will consult the
railfreight industry and others on these improvements in the near
future.

In addition, Mr Watts announced a new track access grant to English
Welsh and Scottish Railway. The grant guarantees coal traffic carried
mostly within the Lothian region of Scotland for Coal Contractors Ltd
will continue to be transported by rail:

"This new grant will keep coal on the railways for the next four
years and keep 14,000 lorries off our roads.

"With ambitious plans for investment and a more pro-active,
customer-orientated approach the private sector is set to reap
substantial dividends in the form of new traffic."

The company is already attracting new business from Caithness to
Cornwall, and EW&S coal trains have operated into Castle Cement's
Padeswood works in North Wales for the first time in 30 years. During
the summer, coal trains returned to Falmouth Docks after an absence
of nine years. EW&S have also secured a new contract for the
movement of pipes destined for North Sea gas and oil fields. These
trains, between Hartlepool and Georgemas Junction, are believed to be
the largest ever to operate in the Scottish Highlands.

Revealing that the revival of rail freight is not confined to one
company, Mr Watts announced recently privatised Freightliner, the
deep sea container distribution business, is also breaking records:

"Freightliner have achieved a new all-time record for the number of
containers handled by rail on a single day at the port of Felixstowe.
On 4 September, Freightliner transported 844 containers to and from
the port, equivalent to more than 20 trains in one day alone."

Notes to Editors

1. Under the Government's Freight Facilities Grants scheme, grants
are available towards the capital cost of rail and inland waterway
freight equipment in cases where the traffic would otherwise move by
road.

2. The Track Access Grant is a revenue grant to defray the costs to
freight operators of access to the rail network. Like the Freight
Facilities Grant this is only available where the removal of freight
from the roads will result in environmental and wider benefits.

3. In August 1996, the National Audit Office published a report into
the administration of the Freight Facilities Grants scheme -
"Department of Transport: Freight Facilities Grants in England".
Copies of this are available from HMSO, price #8.15.

4. BR's trainload freight businesses were sold in February 1996 to a
consortium led by Wisconsin Central. These businesses are being
re-formed as English Welsh & Scottish Railway (EW&S). Freightliner
was sold in May 1996 to a management buyout team.


# = pounds sterling


Railhub Archive ::: 1996-09-19 DoT-001





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