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Tory plans threaten rail freight, claims Rail Freight Group

Conservative proposals to give passenger operators more control of the UK's rail network could seriously disadvantage freight, the Rail Freight Group (RFG) claimed yesterday.
The RFG, which represents rail freight operators, said passenger operators would want to get priority for their own services and may restrict investment in the UK's rail infrastructure.A statement released by the RFG said: 'Although longer passenger franchises would clearly encourage investment by the passenger operators, there is no evidence that, even with longer franchises, they would invest more in the infrastructure, which often has a life of more than 40 years, than Network Rail is allowed to do by Government.'The Conservatives launched their Rail Review on Monday, and it promised that 'Getting freight off roads and onto rail and shipping will be an important goal of our policy development work'.The review was given a cautious welcome RFG chairman Tony Berkely.'To protect the interests of freight, we believe that the independence of the Office of Rail Regulation and of the infrastructure manager, Network Rail, is an essential element,' he said.'This is not only to preserve access rights and ensure fair treatment of all operators, passenger and freight, but to provide the longer term stability to encourage private investment for freight, which has already exceeded £1.5bn since privatisation.'Related links:Today's top stories

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