News and Information

The use of rail inter-modal freight from, and interfacing with container ports (including the Channel Tunnel) is of growing importance in the UK and throughout Europe is now well-established but there remains a shortage of new strategic terminal location to enable the full benefit of longer and more efficient 775-metre trains, better terminal access and sufficient container storage and road vehicle marshaling and dwell facilities.
SLE are now further researching the full benefits of potential new rail intermodal terminals in terms of use as high-security high-tech facilities linked with ports by sophisticated data information and the most up-to-date signalling for train handling and on-site interface to interfacing road vehicles while also addressing the need for an electric 'hub', preferably powered form on-site sustainable source to ensure efficient charging for rail and road vehicles.

Rail – the backbone of the mobility of the future 

Published on 04-06-2018 

The Third Industrial Revolution, the Digital Revolution, should make it possible for rail to increase its market share in the transport of freight. This is the key message of Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, CEO of the International Union of Railways (UIC). 

In his blog, he describes how rail was a crucial player during the First Industrial Revolution, but lost significance when globalisation came around the corner. Today, rail has the chance to become the backbone of the mobility of the future, he states. 

BLOG – The First Industrial Revolution in the 19th century occurred as a response to a growing need for urbanisation and regional integration. Railway was a crucial player in this transformation. It had become necessary to transport quarry products such as ore and coal over large distances to support the construction of towns, factories and infrastructure. The railway itself needed steel to promote its growth, for which it was both the transporter and end-user, the actor and vector at the same time. The transport of freight was therefor e the first “raison d’être” of rail.

The National Infrastructure Commission will examine the UK’s freight sector and how it can meet the country’s needs long into the future, Lord Adonis confirmed today. 22nd November 2017

The new freight study will look at what Government can do to help businesses get their goods up to the front door or the factory gate faster and more efficiently.

Plans for this were announced as part of the Chancellor’s Budget statement on the 22 November 2017.

The Commission’s study will review options to improve the existing infrastructure and recommend ways to use new technologies and processes to transform how freight moves by road and rail , in towns and cities, cross-country and into and out of ports and airports.
This complements the ongoing work to deliver the country’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment . An interim report published in October identified the need to tackle the three Cs of congestion, capacity and carbon , and the Commission will consider how these issues affect freight as part of this new study.

StrategiLand Europe is currently working on three large 'hub' UK intermodal terminal-led SRFI projects at Bedford and the North West, both of which are in the core of potential key areas of infrastructure growth, the third being in the South East.

These three projects are to also support work at Dunkirk that was undertaken since 1998 for a major shipping and rail freight ‘gateway’ and ‘hub’ following previous research throughout Europe on other potential rail-connects projects that could in future benefit the ever-increasing rail freight infrastructure in Europe and now connecting with Central Asia and China.

Rail freight is a key part of the UK’s freight and logistics . 
We move a quarter of all containerised imports from the nation’s ports to consumers, deliver 40% of the construction aggregates used in London and the south east’s building boom, and underpin key industrial sectors such as steel. In the last 12 months, we have seen construction increase by 7% and intermodal by 6%, showing that after recent difficulties, the sector is now returning to a growth mindset.

Rail freight is, of course, a private sector business and not under direct control from Whitehall.

Yet government action is key to providing a framework which allows rail freight to continue growing, and allow those private sector operators and customers to invest for the future. This is particularly important when considering any wider changes to railway policy, including the structure of passenger franchises and Network Rail.

The outgoing government set out its rail freight strategy last autumn, and with a returning Conservative government, we hope to see continued development of the themes in that document. We will certainly be pressing the ministerial team at DfT to deliver this, but what else might be needed?

Put rail freight at the heartofpost-Brexit trade links

With Brexit talks now starting,understanding the impacts on the free movement of goods is a critical priority. Trade is at the core of the economy, and as Brexit forges new global tradingarrangements, we need efficient freight and logistics links to deliver exports to market and imports to our consumers and manufacturers.

Rail freight is a key part of this, with strong links to ports and theChannel Tunnel. Government needs to support theselinks through streamlined customs procedures, investment in infrastructure andensuring seamless international journeys by rail can continue.

Trans-Continental rail freight service direct - 20th December 2016
The China-Europe container train departing from Yiwu is operated by Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co Ltd and has been running the service to Madrid (Spain) via Duisburg (Germany) for over a year.

They now confirm the first container train to London will depart from Yiwu (East China) on the 1st January 2017 before returning to Yiwu afterwards. Yiwu Railway Station - London Barking Railway Station: 16 days'

Silk Road Rail

Eurasia, as in the contiguous landmass that includes both Europe and Asia , is rapidly being interconnected into a massive market covering 70% of the population, 75% of energy resources, and 70% of GDP in the world, and enhanced rail transport corridors are the strings that are drawing it all together.

This new initiative put forth trans-continental rail transport asits vanguard , and before longcities all over China and Europe were linking together via direct cargo trains.But before this could happen a monumental inter-linking of rail systems neededto occur.

A New Logistics Report = by Addleshaw Goddard = How Soon is Now ?December 2016

Addleshaw Goddard offer a range of commercial legal services from offices in the UK, Asia and the GCC and through a worldwide network.

The new report, How soon is now, gathers the views of leading investors, developers, occupiers and operators and sets out policy recommendations on how the logistics sector should respond to the current challenges and opportunities.

Chancellors Autumn Statement on Transport and Infrastructure - 23rd November 2016
£1.1bn extra investment in English local transport networks 

£220m to reduce traffic pinch points 

£23bn to be spent on innovation and infrastructure over five years 

£2bn per year by 2020 for research and development funding 

£110m for East West Rail and commitment to deliver Oxford to Cambridge Expressway More than 

£1bn for digital infrastructure and 100% business rates relief on new fibre infrastructure 

£1.8bn from Local Growth Fund to English regions

Full support for the Northern Powerhouse - details to follow

UK - Autumn Statement: £1.3bn to target congestion roads - November 2016

An extra £1.3bn is to be spent on improving Britain's roads, Chancellor Philip Hammond will say in his first Autumn Statement. 

Most of the money will be for cutting congestion and upgrades to local roads and public transport networks. 

The Treasury said investment in infrastructure andinnovation to boost long-term economic growth would be "at the heart" of Wednesday's statement.

The funding for roads is said to be part of a wider package of pledges for infrastructure projects, amounting to billions of pounds. 

The Treasury said Mr Hammond and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had "identified the importance of prioritising projects which make an immediate impact".

New East-West transport links could provide a once in a generation opportunity for ‘Britain’s Silicon Valley’ - Armitt  - 16 November 2016

The National Infrastructure Commission publishes its interim report into the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor.The National Infrastructure 
Commission (NIC) was established by the Chancellor of the Exchequer iOctober 2015 with Andrew Adonis appointed as its interim Chair. On 16 March 2016, the Chancellor asked the commission to:

….make recommendations [to government] to maximize the potential of the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor as a single, knowledge intensive cluster that competes on the global stage, whilst protecting the area’s high quality environment and securing the homes and job the area needs. The commission will look at the priority infrastructure improvements needed and assess the economic case for which investments would generate the most growth.

Local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, key government departments and national delivery agencies, should work together to develop a strategic vision for housing, jobs and infrastructure across the corridor, as well as proposals for the joint governance arrangements required to deliver co-ordinated planning. This should include the consideration of ambitious new delivery mechanisms, such as development corporations focused on new transport hubs and interchanges. The quality of infrastructure and its impact on maintaining and enhancing the built environment of the corridor should be central to any strategic plan for the area.

The East West Rail Western Section Phase 2 project is part of East West Rail which aims to establish a strategic railway connecting East Anglia with Central, Southern and Western England. It has been promoted and developed since 1995 by the East West Rail Consortium, a group of local authorities and strategic partners.

As part of Network Rail's railway upgrade plan, we are developing plans to upgrade and reconstruct existing, and mothballed (no longer in use) sections of track linking Bedford  -Bicester and Milton Keynes - Princes Risborough.

New journey opportunities for passengers between Bedford and Bicester, New passenger services between Milton Keynes and London via Aylesbury Improved regional links to help boost local economies Increased capacity for freight trains, helping to support the UK economy and take vehicles off local roads.


The Department for Transport has published a new policy paper promoting rail freight transport in order to limit road congestion and reduce carbon emissions. 
 13th September 2016

The FTA has said it is ‘optimistic’ that the new strategy will ‘incentivise the logistics sector and rail industry to work together on new intermodal models to relieve pressure on Britain’s road network.’ It says the sector must also be ready to innovate, because its markets are changing rapidly, and improve its methods of communicating the advantages of rail.

The key constraint to unlocking potential in this sector - availability / construction of suitable rail-connected terminal facilities including SRFI's.
The  need for bespoke logistics solutions to facilitate movement by rail.

John Lewis opens new customer-centric DC
13 September 2016

John Lewis has invested £150million in a new customer-centric distribution centre at Magna Park, Milton Keynes . The centre is designed to achieve faster replenishment for branches and customer deliveries.

According to the retailer, the new centre consolidates fashion and non-fashion items and will see ‘850,000 fewer parcels delivered each year’, with ‘190,000 less miles’ covered by delivery vehicles.The new site has created 500 jobs (doubling during peak times).

Logistics could deliver £35bn of benefits to the north

The freight and logistics sector could deliver £35 billion worth of benefits to the Northern Powerhouse by 2060, according to a report by Transport for the North, which repr
esents local authorities and enterprise partnerships in northern England.

The Northern Freight and Logistics Report also highlights the sustainability benefits of encouraging more freight on rail.

The North of England’s four main ports have agreed a new partnership to create jobs, boost exports and prosperity across the whole of the North of England.

The  vision is that we will see created a series of multimodal distribution parks and strategic rail freight
 interchanges, supported by an east–west cargo super-corridor,  linking Atlantic traffic with the European mainland.

Container Ship, Port & Rail Freight News

Dibden Bay is back - plans to double Southampton's port   27 October 2016

The chief executive of Associated British Ports (ABP) has said the company will be seeking permission for a major expansion of Southampton Docks.

The Dibden Bay development would double the size of the existing docks by using reclaimed land on the New Forest side of Southampton Water.

An application 12 years ago was resisted by naturalist groups and local campaigners and was rejected after a year-long inquiry which cost ABP £40m.

During a visit to Southampton earlier by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond, ABP re-stated its case to expand Southampton, saying it was having to turn business away.

ABP chief executive James Cooper said: "We do have to find a way to expand the capacity of this port to handle Britain's trade.

"There are jobs at the docks and all the way back through the supply chain to the manufacturers as well, it's all important to the British economy."

Mr Hammond, who said the government would back the application, added: "It is a very important part of Britain's infrastructure, a vital enabler of Britain's exporters who will play an ever more important role as we leave the European Union."

Since then the planning system has been changed toenable national infrastructure projects to be determined directly by centralgovernment, something the chancellor denied was a way of over-riding localopinion.

'Short of space'

Mr Hammond said"It is very important that key strategic infrastructure that enables oureconomy to move forward is looked at not just in terms of the local impacts butin terms of the national impacts as well."

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