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Freight lobby presses Railtrack over capacity

THE RAIL Freight Group (RFG) this week attacked Railtrack and the rail regulatory bodies for not doing enough to provide for freight paths on the UK railways.

Railtrack is failing to deliver on its commitments to the rail freight industry on the West Coast Main Line, said the pressure group, and called on the Regulator and Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) to act immediately.

It insists that the proposed WCML timetable north of Crewe for Virgin's new tilting trains leaves insufficient capacity for even today's freight levels.

It also says that the 42 additional slow train paths south of Rugby were originally mostly meant for freight. Now, it says, Railtrack could sell all the paths to passenger operators and avoid building the flyover necessary to give these trains access to fast lines.

'It is now time for the regulator to unpick the agreement, ' said RFG chairman Tony Berkeley.

Railtrack said negotiations 'were continuing' over timetable arrangements north of Crewe. A spokesman added that the 42 slow paths between Willesden and Crewe had never been earmarked, and any Railtrack decision would have to be agreed by the Regulator.

The Regulator's office said it was looking at Lord Berkeley's comments very closely, and would respond soon.

An SRA spokesman said the 42 paths were never 'contractually safeguarded' and that negotiations were continuing.

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