Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of freight which could have switched to rail transport will stay on the roads as a result of the Scottish government’s 62.5 per cent cut in funding for Freight Facilities Grants.
The Rail Freight Group says that the “pitifully small” reduced budget will undermine the Scottish government’s plan to meet carbon emissions reduction targets, as well as discouraging manufacturers and processors from investing in rail freight.
David Spaven, RFG’s Scottish representative, said: “with the FFG budget now set to decline from £7m to £0.75m in the space of just two years – while the roads budget is ballooning – it is hard to believe that the Scottish government is serious about the role rail freight can play in a sustainable Scottish economy.”
Chris MacRae, the Freight Transport Association’s head of policy for Scotland said: “£750,000 is not going to go very far and will effectively make Scottish railways less attractive for those who could consider taking goods off the road. We are certainly more reassured by the £2 million of investment that has been promised for freight modal shift in 2013, but as a percentage of the Future Transport Fund, modal shift is still not being given its fair share.
“We understand that the government doesn’t have a bottomless pot of money to play with, but there are strong economic arguments for it taking more seriously investment in ways to take more lorries off our congested roads and allowing the supply chain to benefit from more efficient alternatives. FTA will continue to fight for more funding for modal switch and will be putting the business case for a healthy proportion of the additional £18.75 million planned for 2014/15 to be allocated to freight facilities.”