The whole HS2 project remains highly controversial, but according to the Rail Freight Group (RFG), HS2 will provide significant benefits for rail freight by releasing capacity on the existing rail network, in particular the West and East Coast Main Lines.
The RFG stated: "This will allow a growth in rail freight services to the major conurbations in the Midlands and North of England, with associated benefits for the environment, and in road decongestion."
Tony Berkeley, RFG Chairman, said: “We are pleased that government is making progress on the second phase of HS2 [Birmingham-points north] and that the need for additional capacity for rail freight on our rail network has been recognised. "Efficient rail logistics are vital for supplying consumers in the East Midlands and North of England, and supporting businesses in those areas. As the work develops through the year, we need assurance on how this capacity can be secured for freight in practice, and linked to the existing strategic freight network.”
DB Schenker Rail UK stated: "While the HS2 project creates additional capacity on the existing West Coast Main Line, providing room for additional freight trains between the major centres of production and consumption on that line, ensuring that the new high speed line is built to accommodate continental-sized trains and is linked to HS1 [Channel tunnel-London] will enhance trading links between the north of England and Scotland with mainland Europe.
"By linking HS1 and HS2 together, a route for continental-sized freight trains from northern England to mainland Europe would be created enhancing trading links for manufacturing companies," said Alain Thauvette, CEO of DB Schenker Rail UK. At the moment, P400 gauge is available in Great Britain only on HS1, between Folkestone and London (Barking).
John Smith, managing director of GB Railfreight (Eurotunnel group) said: “HS2 will free substantial capacity on the existing rail network, especially North East and North West from the East and West Midlands. This new route would give the rail freight sector the opportunity to grow business, removing thousands of lorry journeys from the roads each year."