General Secretary welcomes SRA announcement on CNRS scheme

03 August 2005

General Secretary, Shaun Brady, welcomes the announcement by the Strategic Rail Authority of the start of the Company Neutral Revenue Support (CNRS) scheme from 1st April 2004, with a budget of about £22m for the year 2004/5.

 

“Clearly the Government is listening but the full argument for the rail freight industry has yet to be won”

 

“I have concerns that there is no information about restarting either Track Access Grants or Freight Facilities Grants”.

 

“We will be pressing the Government to make a positive commitment to these areas and that these issues will be on top of our forthcoming agenda at the inaugural Freight Strategy Group meeting in April”

said Shaun Brady.

 

The SRA announced the Company Neutral Revenue Support (CNRS) scheme, with a budget of £22 million for the year 2004/2005, on 10th February 2004.

 

CNRS ties the grant support to ‘traffic moved’; rather than to any individual operator, for example, port operators can apply for support for the movement of containers. However it must be noted that in almost all cases this would be the freight operating company (FOC).

 

The grant does not assist in non-intermodal freight i.e. aggregates, wastes, automotive. Currently it does not cover intermodal Channel Tunnel traffic because of existing complex contractual arrangements for this traffic although this should come on stream within the next two years.

 

Track Access Grant (TAG) is a revenue grant which helps cover the cost of access charges for traffic, which would otherwise go by road. TAG will in future cover none-intermodal traffic. No announcement has been made on the exact budget but the SRA indicate that it will be somewhere in the region of £2 – £3 million for the year 2004/2005. Although this figure does seem to be low it is worth noting that non-intermodal traffic relies less heavily on subsidy.

 

Freight Facilities Grant (FFG) provides capital funding for rail wagons, specialised loading and unloading equipment, rail sidings, connections to lines, storage facilities and other buildings, design and construction costs. The SRA has issued no decision on funding for next year or future years but will have to make an announcement before the new financial year starts in April 2004.

 

Whilst it is encouraging that this new grant scheme supports intermodal traffic it is unclear how much new money will actually be available for additional flows. Of the £22 million promised, a significant percentage will be used to satisfy existing commitments to track access grants for intermodal flows.

The SRA say that CNRS comfortably supports the estimated growth in the market, for example they have 15% headroom over the expected growth in deep sea movement which is estimated to be between 5 and 8% per annum.

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