Rail freight operators and terminals involved in transporting goods to mainland Europe should consider investment that would allow an increase in the volumes they can handle post-Brexit, as doing so could take advantage of a road freight made unstable by future customs arrangements. That’s the view of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and the Transport Advisory in a report published this week. In the 58-page document, the two groups argue that there could be increased opportunities for Britain in terms of international rail freight after the likely separation from the EU.
The International rail freight post-Brexit document said the time was right to “ask what must be done to ensure that rail freight remains a viable and attractive alternative to road-based freight”, something that has been predicted to cause mass disruption when more stringent border checks come into force. The RDG, the body representing companies that run Britain’s rail network, said rail freight contributes £1.7 billion in economic benefits to the British economy.
The RDG wants to work with the government to ensure the smooth movement of goods in a post-Brexit environment that will in turn secure the 1.22 million tonnes of freight transported by rail annually. One of the ways it proposed doing this was through the creation of a Railway Customs Areas (RCAs) at rail terminals, an arrangement that would avoid the need for a single border checkpoint and prevent congestion on the wider rail network..
As explained in the post-Brexit report, rail freight traffic from Europe currently operates without the need for customs declarations to be made or regular physical inspection of cargo by customs authorities. Warnings were issued in July by the district council in Dover, where one of the UK’s busiest ports is located. The council said that such checks would create huge tailbacks and would be forced to create what it called “a giant temporary lorry park holding around 2,000 lorries” on a 13-mile section of the motorway that feeds into Dover port.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the RDG, said the rail industry was united in wanting to secure imports through the Channel Tunnel and provide new opportunities for British businesses. “Our proposals to create customs facilities at freight terminals support and complement the work ongoing in government for customs controls post-Brexit and will prevent unnecessary congestion on the railway and clear the way for smooth trade with our partners in Europe.”
The leader of DB Cargo and chairman of the RDG Freight Board, Hans-Georg Werner, said it was committed to work with government to find a “financially sustainable” solution.
You may also be interested in this from SmartRail World: