Network Rail and Highways England publish multimodal freight strategy


Network Rail and Highways England have published the first phase of Solent’s multimodal freight strategy in the Midlands.

The study is part of Network Rail’s long-term planning process and Highways England’s pioneering route strategy and projects, both designed to identify investment priorities for the future.

He revealed that roads are essential for making door-to-door journeys over shorter distances, such as regional and local movements or the last mile of a rail freight exchange, while rail is the most profitable over de longer distances and for higher loads.

On top of that, the study indicates that rail and road both have similar reliability in terms of travel time, key for freight consumers where much of the freight is weather dependent.

He adds that modal shift to rail provides an opportunity to free up road capacity on the Solent-Midlands Corridor, especially for journeys over 50 miles (80 km) and over 100 miles (160 km) for goods. bulk and consumer respectively.

The study uses the data in innovative ways to identify where there may be flows of goods that currently use road but could be better served by rail. It also highlights the significant benefits that modal shift to rail offers both end-users of freight but also wider road and rail networks.

Phase 1 of the strategy describes the potential for change and the magnitude of the benefits that could be achieved.

It is the culmination of a year of work between the two organizations and represents a further step forward in the collaboration between Highways England and Network Rail in multimodal strategic planning and other areas.

Network Rail’s managing director for system operator Paul McMahon underlined the common goals of Network Rail and Highways England.

“Our two organizations have a common goal of keeping Britain on the move, as well as helping to achieve the government’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” he said.

“This study contributes to these goals by demonstrating how the two networks could be used more efficiently in terms of overall capacity and carbon footprint. “

Highways England Executive Director of Strategy and Planning Elliot Shaw added: “Highways England and Network Rail operate two of the country’s largest transport infrastructure networks for the freight and logistics industries.

“Solent’s Joint Midlands Strategic Study is a good example of our collaboration to identify optimal solutions that could benefit road and rail users, the economy and the environment. “

Connecting the Port of Southampton with the distribution centers and economic hubs of the Midlands, North and Scotland, the Solent to Midlands route is one of the most important freight corridors in the UK.

The A34, operated by Highways England, connects the ports of Solent and the Midlands and is closely linked to the equivalent rail route, owned and operated by Network Rail. The parallel nature of road and rail routes makes them an ideal candidate for intermodal analysis.

The next steps include:

  • Continued collaboration between Network Rail and Highways England to develop the strategy for this important corridor and examine other areas that would benefit from working together to provide improved service to customers.
  • Removal of barriers to the growth of rail freight required to allow increased freight flows out of the Solent.
  • Unlock new markets for rail freight.
  • Decarbonization of freight movements and the road freight system

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