Government warned remember rail freight
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• by David Craik The government's plan to increase rail freight by 80% within the next 10 years is in jeopardy following the collapse of Railtrack this week.
Rail freight supporters are urging the government not to abandon present or future freight projects following its decision to remove financial support for Railtrack and to put it into administration.
Lord Tony Berkley of the Rail Freight Group shows little sorrow over the demise of the "badly managed Railtrack and its chasing profit ethic", but he is concerned that the government will "allow the passenger operators to get control of the tracks and keep freight out".
Sarah Watkins, European Logistics manager at the Freight Transport Association, echoes Berkley's concerns: "There is a danger that the government will see votes in the future in allocating funding to passenger services rather than freight services. They should recognise that there is a growing demand for rail freight services."
Watkins also fears that ongoing projects face extra delays: "There is a concern that there will be a real lack of action now. We will press the government to make sure that there will be no delay in meeting its target to increase rail freight." Railtrack directors are to be retained by administrators Ernst & Young on a day-to-day basis and the government is to make funding available keep the rail network running.
The successor to Railtrack is expected to take the form of a non-profit company which will be owned by the train operating companies, passenger groups and the unions. The founding member will be the Strategic Rail Authority.