Scottish government announces new £25m rail freight fund

Scottish transport secretary, Michael Matheson.

Scottish rail freight is set to benefit from up to £25m of ring-fenced funds to help strengthen the industry over the next five years.

The Scottish government says the fund is open to rail freight industry partners, including Network Rail and Transport Scotland, to table proposals for improvements which meet freight modal shift objectives.  Innovative proposals which meet strategic objectives without costly infrastructure upgrades, for example wagons/locomotives or other interventions, are also welcome.

Scottish transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “This government has a strong track record of support for rail freight which we are committed to taking forward over the next five-year funding period. We know that rail freight and modal shift to rail reduces road congestion, improves air quality, and reduces emissions.

“Rail freight services are vital to sustainable economic growth across Scotland. This fund will support the development and delivery of strategic rail freight projects which improve capacity and capability. It aims to build on and complement our existing and future investment in Scotland’s railways.”

Paul McMahon, managing director of freight and national passenger operators at Network Rail, said: “Over the next five years we’ve committed to working with our industry partners to get new traffic onto Scotland’s rails and today’s announcement is welcome. We understand that Network Rail is vital to supporting freight growth, but this will only be realised by working in partnership with the wider industry."

Maggie Simpson, director general of the Rail Freight Group, added: "This commitment from Scottish government is welcome news for the rail freight industry and will allow vital upgrades to Scotland’s railways, unlocking capacity and capability for new services. This is good news for freight customers, for the Scottish economy and for the environment."

The fund will be administered by Transport Scotland and a new Scottish Rail Freight Forum will be established, including members from across the industry. All work will be commissioned in a way that, says the government, “best secures value for money.”

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