Transport Secretary Justine Greening and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles have issued a joint statement stressing the importance of rail freight and the need for a network of Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges (SFRIs), particularly in South East England, to support growth and create employment.
The Government is concerned that despite its support for more freight going by rail the industry is facing problems developing SRFIs in appropriate locations to serve the major conurbations.
The minister told MPs: “To date, this has proved extremely problematical, especially in the South East where growing demand and increasing congestion on the road network is creating serious logistical challenges.”
She said the Government believed that an expanded network of SRFIs, complemented by other freight interchanges and terminals, was needed to support longer-term development of efficient rail freight distribution logistics.
To clarify the Coalition’s intent in this area ministers have prepared a statement which has been lodged in the Libraries of both Houses.
They made it clear that the statement should used by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) in its decision making on any development consent applications for SRFI infrastructure it deals with while the relevant National Planning Policy Statement – covering transport networks – is formulated and agreed.
In parallel, the Department for Transport has asked Network Rail to provide industry support to the development of a network of SRFIs, working collaboratively with the wider logistics industry to:
The Coalition statement on SRFIs stressed: “It is important that SRFIs are located near the business markets they will serve - major urban centres, or groups of centres - and are linked to key supply chain routes. The need for effective connections for both rail and road means that the number of locations suitable as SRFI will be limited.”
1 December 2011