The UK’s Greater Manchester region should focus on the use of rail for freight transportation supporting its construction material industry according to a new report published by the Mineral Products Association (MPA) and the Rail Freight Group (RFG).
The ‘Building Better with Rail Freight in Greater Manchester’ report outlines existing action taken to support the region’s rail freight industry while also calling on the government to embolden further action through policy changes and planning reform.
Maggie Simpson, director general of the RFG, said: “Greater Manchester has one of the fastest growing economies in the UK, and is seeing investment in new homes, offices and infrastructure.
“Rail freight is already helping to minimise the carbon emissions of this construction, and with the right policy environment in place our members will be able to transport more products by rail into the region, reducing the number of lorries on our roads.”
Some of the issues raised in the report include the RFG’s call for a “more consistent implementation” of the National Planning Policy Framework to safeguard the operations of “strategically important” depots from developments such as new housing estates that could use land that may be required for future use by the freight industry.
The report also calls for lower application costs for new rail links to material sites such as quarries, ensuring long-term affordable site rents for facilities, and increased priority for rail freight in timetables to allow the industry to meet demand.
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Robert McIlveen, director of public affairs at the MPA, said: “We would love to see the market for materials by rail grow to allow the industry to supply more materials in a more efficient and environmentally friendly manner and we hope that government policy will help to deliver more desired outcomes for all.”
Publication of the report comes soon after the UK’s Department for Transport set a 75% growth target for the country’s rail freight market, a move that was welcomed by the RFG which said that it would create confidence for customers.