Mayor of London's Transport Plan Ignores the Benefits of Rail Freight
The Mayor of London's new draft Transport Strategy has a major omission. It includes no recognition of the role nor benefits of rail freight to the capital nor any plans to safeguard or encourage this vital transport mode. Five million tonnes of construction materials such as aggregates and cement are delivered to a network of rail depots across London to help supply the material demands of housing, transport infrastructure and other development throughout London. Without these rail delivered materials, an additional 250,000 lorry journeys would be required annually to supply London.
The Transport Strategy's only references* to rail freight in London are negative and dismissive and no link is made between the Mayor's plans for increased housebuilding and major infrastructure investments and the supply of the materials required to enable these investments to take place. There are currently growing concerns about whether planning authorities will safeguard the rail depots currently used to receive materials in the light of other development pressures such as housing. Without a clear policy lead from the Mayor that the future use of rail freight is economically and environmentally critical for London, there is a significant risk that the operation of existing and potential new rail depots will become increasingly difficult, resulting in significant increases in long distance lorry movements into London.
MPA Chief Executive, Nigel Jackson commented:
"The lack of awareness of the current and potential role of rail freight in London is both surprising and alarming. The Strategy outlines major housing and development requirements in London which will demand tens of millions of tonnes of construction materials annually. Rail freight is not a problem – it is an essential part of any plan to supply London's needs and manage problems such as air quality, congestion and road safety. We welcome the Mayor's recognition of the importance of river freight, most of which comprises of aggregates, but the same focus urgently needs to be applied to rail freight or the Mayor's economic, environmental and social objectives will not be delivered."
*"slow moving long trains (ie freight trains) limit the full potential of the network for passenger services..." page 163 of draft Transport Strategy.