Rail freight at risk from Tories

27 February 2017

The government is set to slash the Mode Shift Revenue Support (MSRS) grant by £4m per annum (21% of the budget), from the 1st April 2017 and then cut is again to just £15.2m in 2018-19.  The rail freight grant supports companies moving goods by rail instead of HGVs in recognition of the congestion, safety, air quality and CO2 benefits of removing trucks from our roads.

It is estimated that the cut could lead to an additional 190,000 lorry journeys each year as the economic case for utilising rail freight is weakened. 

Mick Whelan, ASLEF's general secretary, said: “We’re not looking for the government to financially prop up an unprofitable industry with subsidies. The reality is that road haulage inflicts a far greater cost on society than it pays in tax, meaning it receives an enormous indirect subsidy. Rail freight grants are a useful way of levelling the playing field between road and rail. All these cuts will do is make the advantage to the road haulage industry even less fair which will lead to more road congestion, more pollution and more road fatalities.”

Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister Pat Glass said: “Encouraging rail freight reduces congestion, road accidents, air pollution and climate change impacts, so it’s self-defeating for the Government to go ahead with these cuts. We should support rail freight because of the clear benefits to our economy and environment. If the Government care about improving air quality, tackling congestion and supporting UK businesses, they should reinstate the grant.”


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