With the talk and debate on HS2 project still as lively as ever, little has been said on the impact it will have on the freight industry and UK freight operators.
Following the recent commission of a report of the economic benefits of HS2, several industry players have united to throw their weight behind the idea that HS2 could increase the economic value of freight on British railways. GB Railfreight, Freightliner, Direct Rail Services, Colas Rail, and DB Schenker have joined forces to argue their collective points.
In essence, they believe that once regular train services transfer to the proposed HS2 routes, the freed up paths on the existing East and West Coast main lines will enable more freight services to operate more frequently. This is likely to remove a significant number of HGV vehicles off some of the UK’s busiest roads, both improving travelling conditions and environmental impact.
The group’s argument also suggests that the costs of motoring are likely to rise by over 30% by 2040, and one of the knock on benefits of HS2 could be cheaper food and drink in the supermarkets as major retailers save money by moving food and drink via rail. The freight companies also say HS2 could help to improve exports as transporting automotive parts to Europe via the Channel tunnel would become cheaper, thus helping them to be priced more competitively.
Managing Director of GB Railfreight, John Smith, said, “The Government has given considerable attention to the impact that HS2 will have on rail passenger but not enough time and energy has been spent considering the economic value of rail freight in the debate. Today’s report by KPMG is very welcome as an important step in recognising the wider benefits of the high-speed network.”
The UK freight operators are clearly largely supportive of the project, but with completion of HS2 still in doubt despite the vast amount of money already pumped into the project, it remains ot be seen if their wishes become reality.