Hope for Royal Mail and Rail Freight

03 August 2005

Reported in the Financial Times, 14 April 2004, FirstGroup, the transport operator, is in exclusive talks with postal chiefs to return the recently departed mail trains to the railways.

 

ASLEF, trade unions and environmentalists campaigned vigorously for the retention of Royal Mail freight. The resulting failure of Royal Mail to consider rail freight came as a major blow to the rail freight industry and flew in the face of government policy to get more freight on the railways to relieve the overcrowded road network.

 

Royal Mail previously indicated that it did not ruled out a return to rail in the future, and they opened talks with a range of rail freight operators to see whether they could subsequently bring into service the rail transport arrangements originally envisaged as part of the new structure.

 

It is understood that several companies showed interest, including GB Rail Freight. A subsidiary of FirstGroup. Royal Mail said discussions were "progressing" after several months of talks and that the two sides were at the stage of listing service routes. It denied that a deal was imminent.

 

ASLEF has been in recent talks with the Government concerning Royal Mail and rail freight. Of particular importance is the infrastructure consisting of land, buildings etc, fearing that they may be sold off to non-rail industries. These are important sites to the rail industry and it would be catastrophic if they were lost.

 

ASLEF General Secretary, Shaun Brady said, “We have continually argued that transportation of mail by rail freight must remain an option and that any associated infrastructure, land and buildings must be retained for future use”.

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