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MPA alarmed at Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy

Mayor of London's Transport Strategy ignores the benefits of rail freight

Association says lack of awareness of current and potential role of rail freight is both surprising and alarming

THE Mineral Products Association (MPA) says the Mayor of London’s new draft Transport Strategy has a major omission, in that it includes no recognition of the role or benefits of rail freight to the capital, nor any plans to safeguard or encourage this vital transport mode.

According to the MPA, around 5 million tonnes of construction materials such as aggregates and cement are delivered to a network of rail depots across London each year to help supply the material demands of housing, transport infrastructure and other development work throughout the city.

It says that without these rail-delivered materials an additional 250,000 lorry journeys would be required annually to supply the capital.

The Association is alarmed that the Transport Strategy’s only references* to rail freight in London are negative and dismissive, and that no link is made between the Mayor’s plans for increased house building and major infrastructure investments and the supply of the materials required to enable these investments to take place.


According to the MPA, there are currently growing concerns about whether planning authorities will safeguard the rail depots currently used to receive materials in the light of other development pressures such as housing.

The Association says that without a clear policy lead from the Mayor that the future use of rail freight is economically and environmentally critical for London, there is a significant risk that the operation of existing and potential new rail depots will become increasingly difficult, resulting in significant increases in long-distance lorry movements into London.

Commenting on the Strategy, the MPA’s chief executive, Nigel Jackson, said: ‘The lack of awareness of the current and potential role of rail freight in London is both surprising and alarming.

‘The Strategy outlines major housing and development requirements in London, which will demand tens of millions of tonnes of construction materials annually. Rail freight is not a problem – it is an essential part of any plan to supply London’s needs and manage problems such as air quality, congestion and road safety.

‘We welcome the Mayor’s recognition of the importance of river freight, most of which comprises aggregates, but the same focus urgently needs to be applied to rail freight or the Mayor’s economic, environmental and social objectives will not be delivered.’

* ‘…slow-moving long trains (ie freight trains) limit the full potential of the network for passenger services...’ p.163 of draft Transport Strategy.


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