Freightliner 66503 with containers

UK: The government will consider industry proposals for last-mile electrification into freight terminals which would enable operators to take advantage of existing and future main line electrification when procuring new locomotives, Rail Minister Huw Merriman has told Rail Business UK.

Speaking at an event to announce the latest tranche of funding for the Transpennine Route Upgrade on December 4, Merriman said freight growth is important and he regularly talks to the Rail Freight Group.

‘We are looking at a freight growth capacity target in the future, to be put in place, that will really drive everyone’, he said.

Trans-Pennine electrification ‘is a really good case study’, as ‘by delivering the electrification and also the extra paths we can have freight trains operating on one set of tracks and faster passenger trains overtaking; that will deliver an extra 15 rail freight paths a day, which will allow more rail freight from Hull to Liverpool to operate on this electrified line.

‘That would mean 1 200 lorry movements a day that would come down, so it’s not just good for the freight industry it’s good for getting down road congestion and it’s good for the environment.’

Merriman said infrastructure works around Ely which would provide more freight paths from Felixstowe to the Midlands and avoid the need for trains to travel via London were only possible because of the funding released by the ‘difficult decision’ over High Speed 2.

When pressed again about a specific commitment to electrify missing sections into freight terminals, he said where freight operators come up with proposals ‘we’ll actually look at our enhancement pipeline and try and do that.

‘I’m particularly focused on rail freight because when we see changes in passenger numbers, we’ve got to make sure that that capacity is replaced by rail freight.’