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Stricken rail freight needs help

NEWS

GOVERNMENT CASH is needed to prop up a rail freight industry that has lost £15M since the suspension of cross channel services, freight lobbyists claimed this week.

Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) performance figures released this week show that freight moved by rail fell 2.5% in the last quarter of 2001 due to the problems in Calais, threatening the government's target of increasing rail freight 80% by 2010.

Services through the Channel Tunnel were initially suspended in November following repeated incursions on to trains by asylum seekers at the freight depot in Calais, and were again suspended last week.

Security issues were still unresolved and it was unclear as to when operators could resume services, said a spokesman for the largest operator EWS.

Rail Freight Group (RFG) chairman Tony Berkeley this week called for the SRA to support stricken freight companies.

He cites the government's backing of the airline industry in the wake of 11 September as a precedent.

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