Welcome for £44 million freight grant

06 June 2007

ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman said he was delighted at today’s announcement by Rail Minister Tom Harris that the government intends to award £44m in new rail freight grants.

‘I do not yet have all the information to hand,’ he said, ‘but the minister says the grants mean the equivalent of more than 2.1m lorry journeys and 631m lorry kilometres will be removed from Britain's roads over the next three years. If that is the case, it is major step for the environment, the ending of congestion on the roads and for the rail freight industry.’

Tom Harris made the announcement at the Rail Freight 2007 conference, explaining that the £44 million in funding over the next three years for the movement of freight on rail will be channelled through the Rail Environmental Benefit Procurement Scheme (REPS). He said the aim of government was ‘to secure a major shift of goods from road onto rail’, a policy which would ‘make a significant contribution towards reducing road congestion, accidents and carbon emissions’. He also committed the government to ‘continue to provide financial support to rail freight where it is affordable and where it offers the greatest benefits when assessed alongside support for other modes’ and said that there is funding available.

‘This is exactly the sort of thing we wanted to hear when we began our Freight on Rail campaign,’ said Keith. ‘Of course we want more, we want it quicker and we want it with less strings – but it would be churlish not to welcome a stride in the right direction.’

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