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Coal power station closures place rail freight at “important crossroads”

As the Government announces plans to shut the UK’s remaining coal-fired power stations by 2025, GB Railfreight Managing Director John Smith says this places rail freight at an “important crossroads”.

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd MP said today (November 18): “Frankly, it cannot be satisfactory for an advanced economy like the UK to be relying on polluting, carbon-intensive, 50-year-old coal-fired power stations.”

Smith said following the announcement: “The closure of coal stations raises considerable challenges for the rail freight industry. A reduction in coal has long been anticipated and is clearly important to help the UK meet its carbon targets.

“However, coal stations are closing sooner than intended due to the impact of the carbon tax regime. Together with the demise of the UK’s steel industry, the rail freight sector is seeing the reduction of bulk commodities that have been the core of our business and allowed us to speculate in other markets.

“While there is an opportunity for rail freight to open up into new and existing markets and to take lorries off the road, to prosper we urgently need to see a joined-up approach from Government that supports rail freight.

“This includes investment in enhancements to create more capacity on key rail arteries like the West Coast and East Coast Main Lines that would enable us to grow intermodal, particularly the long-overdue capacity improvements required around the Port of Felixstowe. It also includes the critical need to ensure that the Strategic Freight Network exists and is funded for the next Control Period.

“We are at an important crossroads for rail freight where we need to find and develop new and existing foundations. This requires Government support, an integrated approach to our logistics strategy and long-term certainty in the markets that we serve.”

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