The freight escape
Source: Evening News - Scotland
Publication date: 2000-12-27
Arrival time: 2000-12-28
MORE than 11 million pounds is to be spent to reduce jams on central
Scotland's motorways by moving freight off the roads and on to the rails,
the Scottish Executive pledged today.
Oil giant BP is to receive 10m to build a new train-loading terminal at its
Grangemouth refinery, while freight haulage firm WH Malcolm is to receive
900,000 to build a rail link at its adjacent base.
In what is being described as "a significant step" towards easing traffic
congestion on the M8 corridor and the main arterial routes to England down
the A1 and the M6, the grants are expected to remove more than five million
lorry miles from Scotland's under-pressure road system each year.
But opposition politicians and freight organisations warned the grants,
although welcome, will not make any significant impact on Scotland's
At the moment, only ten or 11 per cent of the 150 million tonnes of freight
moved each year in Scotland goes by rail.
The Government has already said it wants to increase that proportion to 18
per cent over the next ten years and has pledged 36m over the next four
years to the Freight Facilities Grant Scheme, for firms wanting to switch to
Transport Minister Sarah Boyack said: "These awards will deliver huge
environmental benefits as well as make significant progress towards reducing
the number of lorries on our roads .
"We are well on course to achieving our target of removing 18 million lorry
miles each year from our roads by 2002 and I look forward to being able to
make even more awards in the next few years when the Scottish Executive
doubles the funding for this scheme."
She said the awards highlighted the way businesses can contribute to the
environment and still compete effectively.
"By transferring freight from road to rail or sea, Scotland's roads are less
congested for everyone. These grants allow for a more sensible use of our
But the news has been met with scepticism by some critics. Gavin Scott,
Scottish regional policy director of the Freight Transport Association,
said: "Over and above the current problems with the rail system, the concept
of moving freight from the roads to rail is all very well, but it is only
suitable for some traffic.
"The vast majority of freight in the UK is moved less than 50 miles, and
trains are just not appropriate for those kind of journeys."
He added: "The Executive has had a tendency to say that because they are
throwing money at the railways they don't need to do anything with the
" More than 90 per cent of freight still goes by the roads. There still
needs to be investment there.
"The other point to bear in mind is that if we increase the number of
freight trains at the same time as trying to increase the level of passenger
services we will see trains fighting for the same track space.
"If there were more fast passenger services, as has been suggested for the
line between Edinburgh and London, then more freight trains would spend
their time sitting in loops.
"The Executive has said it wants to double the number of freight going by
rail over the next ten years. I don't think many people will notice much of
a difference because that will just soak up the expected increase in traffic
SNP transport spokesman Bruce Crawford said: "The Executive has set itself
very unambitious targets for transferring freight to the rails.
"This announcement has a lot to do with spin and very little to do with
substance. It is simply tinkering round the edges of Scotland's very real
transport and infrastructure problems."
Today's awards also include 700,000 to Swedish firm Iggesund Paperboard to
renovate a pier at Lochaline and to lease a ship to transport timber via
west coast ports rather than by road.
Last year, transport and logistics firm TDG Nexus was given 9.7m to reroute
bulk freight from Grangemouth off the motorways and on to the rail network
as part of the same scheme.
Under the deal, the firm was given the cash to reconstruct a derelict
terminal at the plant to transport up to 360,000 tonnes of polythene and
polypropylene a year to other terminals in Britain.
Publication date: 2000-12-27
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