Received from: ASLEF
Congress is concerned about the decline in freight transported by rail over the last five years. Total freight moved grew steadily from 1995–96, reaching a peak of 22.7 billion net tonne kilometres in 2013–14. This has now fallen by over 25 per cent, to 17.0 billion net tonne kilometres.
The fall is largely due to government policy to tax coal traffic and the difficulties the UK steel industry has endured. Over the last year, coal transported has fallen by 12.7 per cent and metals by 5.4 per cent. Areas of growth for rail freight, intermodal consumer goods and construction have not managed to keep pace with this rapid decline.
Congress notes that the rail freight industry has lost much of its capacity due to the decline in traffic but, that whilst decline in capacity can happen quickly, growing capacity and recruiting drivers takes far longer. Rail freight operators do the infrastructure repairs and enhancements across our network.
Congress is concerned that if the government does not do more to support the rail freight industry, the UK’s infrastructure and railways will go into decline. Additionally, we will see far more freight go onto our roads despite the fact that rail produces 76 per cent less carbon dioxide emissions than the equivalent road journey.
Congress calls on the General Council to campaign for more support for the freight industry and for the introduction of a publicly owned rail freight operator in order to ensure our network has the capacity for renewals and enhancements.