The Anonymous Widower

Should We Increase Rail Freight To Avoid Calais And The Migrants?

The BBC has quoted the French Police Chief at Calais as saying that the number of trucks trying to use the ferries and Eurotunnel has dropped.

Is this because it’s now the Summer holidays and the drivers have flown to their holidays or could it be that at last the needs of freight transport between the UK and Europe are being increasingly fulfilled by the obvious alternative, that hopefully would be totally useless to the migrants? – Direct freight trains between UK and Europe.

I wrote on this in December 2014 calling the post, Would Reorganising Cross-Channel Freight Cut Illegal Migration?

I stand by what I said then.

You have to remember, that a lot of freight flows between the UK and Europe are large and predicable. This is a few freight categories that I know go by rail over the channel.

  1. Car components including complete engines for Ford and BMW.
  2. Complete vehicles. Four years ago, you didn’t see car trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking and North London Lines, but now they are quite common.
  3. Fresh fruit from Spain to the UK.
  4. Steel products for Tata Group between Wales and The Netherlands

Are cargoes like Scottish fish and meat from all parts of the UK something that will be going on that list? These would only need refrigerated containers, that you see all over the railways. With meat too, there are no welfare issues and as a beef farmer once told me, dead carcasses pack three times better in a refrigerated truck, than livestock.

 

I have also found this informative article on the DB Schenker web site. It isn’t dated unfortunately, but it makes a lot of general points. This is the first two paragraphs.

When the Channel Tunnel between Calais in northern France and Folkstone on the southeastern coast of England opened in 1995, many forecasted a bright future for rail freight transport between Great Britain and continental Europe. An enormous amount of effort and money went into the construction of the two-track rail tunnel. The high hopes for the groundbreaking project have not yet been met, however. In fact, only 1.1 million metric tons of freight was transported by rail via the tunnel under the English Channel in 2010, less than before the 50-km tunnel opened.

High prices in particular have prevented rail freight transport from making greater use of the tunnel. Competition between freight forwarders that use the truck shuttle has kept prices in check. Eurotunnel charges a higher, constant price for block trains, however, and as a result, only a few providers can afford the transfer.

The last part in particular blames the high charges and the charging method  of Eurotunnel. Governments should apply pressure here.

The article does talk about problems with the UK loading gauge, which hopefully are being fully addressed now.

At least thought freight trains between the UK and Europe can now get from Barking in East London to virtually anywhere in Europe.

Perhaps, the UK Government should use taxation and tax relief to encourage more freight flows across the Channel to go on freight trains.

The losers would be UK haulage firms and drivers, but they can’t find Cross-Channel trade very profitable and stress-free at the moment.

August 1, 2015 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,

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