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HS2 "will benefit rail freight"

British rail freight interets have welcomed the British government's commitment to the "High Speed 2" link between London and Birmingham and (phase 2) onwards to Manchester and Leeds
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The British government's new published report sets out the details of route to Leeds, Manchester and beyond, linking into the first phase of HS2 (London-Birmingham) and to the conventional rail network.

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."

  • Following the agreement to apply the European technical specifications for interoperability to freight trains travelling through the Channel Tunnel, Europorte, the Eurotunnel affiliate, has carried out tests with a latest generation Siemens Vectron locomotive. The Vectron is the first locomotive to gain certification under TSI, HS and RST in Europe. It is therefore capable of hauling traffic directly from the continent to the UK. The tests were to prove its compatibility with the systems and safety rules in the Channel Tunnel. For the test, the Vectron loco, in standard configuration and hauling wagons with a total trailing weight of 1350 tonnes, entered the tunnel via the French portal at 22.42h on 25 January and completed a series of traction, braking and pantograph tests. Equipped with four axles, instead of the six on the Class 92, which is the only loco currently approved for use in the Tunnel, the Vectron exited at Folkestone before setting back to France for a second phase of tests. These were completed "without difficulty" around 06.00h on 26 January. The tests are in line with Eurotunnel’s ambition to encourage the development of “normal” rail freight between the UK and continental Europe - that is, without the need to use the very specific Class 92 locomotives.
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