Commons Gate

Freight Transport (HC 249-i)

Transport Committee 23 Jan 2007

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Evidence given by: Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE); John Chaplin, Member of ICE Maritime Panel The Institution of Highways and Transportation; Mike Slinn, President; Logistics Research Centre, Heriot-Watt University ; Professor Alan McKinnon, Director, English Regional Development Agencies; John Edwards, Chief Executive of Advantage West Midlands Freight Transport Association: James Hookham, Managing Director of Policy and Communications; Chris Welsh, General Manager, Campaigns ; Association of International Couriers and Express Services; Sharon Davies, Director of Corporate Affairs, DHLRoad Haulage Association; Roger King, Chief Executive; Jack Semple, Director of Policy National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT)Bob Crow, General Secretary; Nautilus UK; Andrew Linnington, Head of Campaigns & Communications; Unite - The Union; Dave Williams, Chair, National Committee, Road Transport - Commercial

Q45 Mr. Eric Martlew: Gentlemen, you have succeeded in confusing me. I came here, expecting everybody to say that freight transport is going to increase considerably. I am not sure that is the case at the present time, is it? The evidence we are getting is that perhaps it will not happen. If you are talking about rail, then you are talking about bulk and you may be talking about coal. If we are talking about the phasing out of coal-fired power stations, then we are talking about actually reducing the amount of freight traffic. Are we going to have a continuing expansion in freight traffic or not?

Professor McKinnon: The standard measure of freight is the tonne kilometre and, if you look at total tonne kilometres ---

Chairman: We do not want to go back over that one. You made that very clear and you did it very well.

Q46 Mr. Eric Martlew: Is it going to expand or is it not?

Professor McKinnon: You mentioned rail. Changes in energy mix, a change in the future energy policy, will affect ---

Q47 Mr. Eric Martlew: That means there will be less going on the railways?

Professor McKinnon: More coal will be coming in through Teesport rather than Hunterstone and therefore it will be clocking up fewer tonne kilometres on the rail network; so that will reduce freight. However, I do not want people to think that we are foreseeing a huge increase in the quantity of freight we are going to have to handle. I do not think that is the case. I think, if anything, it will stabilise.

Q48 Mr. Eric Martlew: It is not a major problem.

Professor McKinnon: No.

Mr Chaplin: In terms of clarification, clearly certain cargoes will increase, such as containers, as the UK continues to grow and rely upon more imports from the Far East, et cetera; whereas, as we have indicated, with a change in the energy mix, clearly we will reduce the number of coal trains running about the place.

Q49 Chairman: Mr Slinn, you have taken a deep breath?

Mr Slinn: Yes. I just wanted to mention vans. There may not be a great increase in the numbers of heavy goods vehicles on our roads, but there is certainly an increase in the numbers of vans, which are not particularly well regulated - and that is an issue, of safety and also drivers' working hours and the like.

Q50 Mr. Eric Martlew: Is this because of online shopping and things like that?

Mr Slinn: Yes, the modern trend; the IT world, essentially.

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 at

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On behalf of Eric Martlew, 3 Chatsworth Square Carlisle Cumbria CA1 1HB