Commons Gate

Freight Transport (HC 249-ii)

Transport Committee 6 Feb 2008

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Evidence given by
2.45 PD Ports Ltd Martyn Pellew, Group Development Director Peel Ports Frank Robotham, Group Marketing Director British Ports Association David Whitehead, DirectorUK Major Ports Group Richard Bird, Executive Director
3.30 Network Rail Paul Plummer, Director, Planning & Regulation Barbara Barnes, Head of Customer Service Freight on Rail Lindsay Durham, Head of Rail Strategy at Freightliner English Welsh and Scottish Railway Graham Smith, Planning Director
4.15 British Waterways Simon Salem, Marketing and Customer Service Director Sea and Water Mike Garratt, Chairman Port of London Authority James Trimmer, Head of Planning and Partnerships GPS Marine Contractors Ltd John Spencer, Managing Director.

Chairman: I want to come to Mr Clelland, who has been very patient.

Q222 Mr. David Clelland: I think most of the points about regional ports have been covered. Just for clarity, from my point of view, what are we saying specifically the Government could or should do to discourage the further concentration of port traffic in the greater South-East and encourage greater use of regional ports?

Mr Pellew: One specific issue is that at the moment the Transport Innovation Fund, which is one of the key routes, is perpetuating the existing productivity and innovation element of it rather than the road pricing element of the TIF funding. It is incentivising and putting money behind improving the gauge enhancement (i.e. the ability to handle the larger, more modern containers out of particularly Peterborough to Nuneaton and from Southampton up to Nuneaton), so this would perpetuate continuing traffic from the southern ports. The amount of money which is being put forward for gauge enhancement or an alternative which might be looking at a wagon-based solution, which could be delivered more quickly, by using well wagons, low profile wagons, which enables you to put the larger containers onto the railways, could help regional ports compete against the southern ports in terms of their ability to move the product inland than use an alternative mode of transport. So, for example, that would help promote regional ports as opposed to South-East ports.

Mr Robotham: I do think that a regional policy should also influence regional ports, and we are only talking about one particular settled business really at the end of the day and that is the container business. Okay, to some extent we are entering ourselves, whether it is Liverpool or Tees. We are building capacity to solve the problem. But it has created a degree of frustration that certainly our local regions can see the importance of our two ports and are to some extent strapped by not being able to maybe assist the ports to push forward schemes which would help us either increase capacity or encourage more traffic, to start to have an impact on this modal shift, because one thing is clear: everything we do from the Northern port perspective is going to lead to modal shift. It is going to take lorries off the roads in the South and it is going to take the pressure on rail investment in the South for freight. It is going to be both to the regional interest and the national interest and I think regional ports should be recognised for taking that initiative and supported accordingly.

This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee. Neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.

The full transcript may be read here.

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Promoted by Ken Childs on behalf of David Clelland, both of 19 Ravensworth Road, Dunston, Gateshead. NE11 9AB