February 2017

Going back for the future to cut congestion

Rob is backing a scheme to help reduce pollution and congestion by putting high value, time-sensitive freight onto passenger trains.

The MP, who is also chair of the All Party Parliamentary Freight Transport Group, says, “In these days where autonomous trains and retinal scans to track passengers are seen as glimpses of the future of rail it’s important to remember that old ideas are not necessarily bad ideas.  I’ve recently been talking to people from a company called InterCity RailFreight who are taking a concept which would be completely familiar to the Victorian rail passenger and turning it into a serious prospect for moving freight by rail and cutting road congestion.”

InterCity RailFreight began trials of their scheme in 2010 and have now become partners with two rail franchisees, GWR and East Midlands Trains, moving a wider range of commodities from fresh seafood to clinical trials samples by rail on passenger services.  These two types of cargo might seem rather disparate, but they have one thing in common, which is an urgent need to find the quickest route to their destinations.  The medical samples are moving between Nottingham and Leicester as part of clinical drug trials, and as such need to reach the London labs where they are examined as speedily as humanly possible.  The fish is coming fresh off the boat in Cornwall to be distributed to various click-and-collect points in London, ready to be cooked the same day it was hauled from the waves.  In each case, the time and cost savings are significant when compared to road transport.  The process is cheaper than using a diesel delivery van, up to 300% faster and of course, causes no more pollution than the passenger train on which they goods are carried would have already produced because, as the company slogan goes, “The train is going there anyway.”

All Party Freight group hears post-Brexit prophecies

The All Party Parliamentary Freight Transport Group of MPs has heard how changes to the way the industry functions in Britain may be slow in coming following the country’s exit from the EU.  The group heard from Ian Jones, a solicitor with long-established transport law firm, Backhouse Jones, that much existing regulation as it relates to safety is likely to stay the same post-Brexit and is unlikely to be watered down. 

For example, AETR rules on tachographs and drivers’ hours are expected to remain unaltered.  Mr Jones said that other systems like Operator licensing, predate EU membership so are also likely to be left as they are.  Whatever change does come, he said, would be very gradual when put into the context of the huge body of law up for review after Brexit.  Mr Jones said the area where the future was least clear was employment law, in particular the Working time Directive and TUPE regulations, which may be subject to eventual review.