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April 30, 2014: The Freight Transport Association (FTA) today called for "a joint industry approach to encouraging greater use of rail freight by shippers," when it launched "Agenda for More Rail Freight" as part of the FTA Seminar Day programme at Multimodal 2014,

The "Agenda for More" document is based on research and a year long study conducted by the Association in conjunction with the UK's leading retailers and shippers within FTA's British Shippers' Council; The publication is subsequent to FTA's "On Track" report , an initiative jointly convened by the former Transport Minister Mike Penning and the FTA regarding the challenges facing shippers for increasing rail freight, and illustrates it can be a viable and reliable solution for the most demanding of customers.

Chris Welsh, FTA's Director Global and European Policy said: "If we are going to achieve both sustainable rail freight growth and meet the very challenging rail freight growth target we need to work together. This needs to be an inclusive process. FTA is today inviting all sections of the rail freight industry to work with their existing and potential customers to participate in working groups to deliver the "Agenda for More" action points identified by shippers."

The UK's leading retailers and shippers have now set out clear action points for the rail freight industry if the ambition to switch more freight on to rail is to be achieved, to which Mr Welsh added: "In its recent Delivery Plan Network Rail says it has forecast an extra 30% increase in rail freight by 2019. That's a tall order, because Britain's leading retailers and shippers (upon whom that growth in demand is dependent), have categorically stated that there needs to be a step change in improvement in service delivery if that ambition is to be realised."

FTA's "Agenda for More" outlines 14 improvement areas under four main themes:

  • Costs and competitiveness
  • Service availability and flexibility
  • Network access
  • International services

To move the "Agenda for More" process forward the FTA is looking to establish a joint industry initiative involving all stakeholders in the rail freight industry.

Welsh concluded: "What we need to see is greater commitment to continuous improvement to reduce costs and maintain competiveness, an increase in service frequency to match product lead times, a seven day a week rail freight service, more rail connected terminals, and additional temperature controlled containers particularly for frozen foods if the 30% increase predicted by Network Rail is to be achieved".

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