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RMT - National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers

04/29/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/29/2021 05:36

Government policy on green freight transport not fit for purpose

Government policy on green freight transport not fit for purpose in advance of COP26, says RMT.

Following the publication of the new Government figures to boost freight support transport union RMT today said the Government policy to increase green freight transport in advance of COP26 was not fit for purpose.

Official Government statistics show that the percentage of freight moved and lifted by rail has fallen continuously for the last 10 years whilst road freight has increased during the same period. The Government must show much greater ambition to create a huge modal shift from road to rail and water as part of the green economic recovery and to meet emission reduction targets.

In the same week that the Government set a new legally-binding target to cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 78% by 2035, figures released by the DfT reveal that rail freight companies received funding from the taxpayer to move more freight in the pandemic whilst cutting jobs. At the same time coastal shipping companies continue to ignore environmental subsidies which could provide work for UK seafarers made redundant during the crisis.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

'The Government's strategy to build back better from the Covid-19 crisis and to slash carbon emissions simply does not tally with their plans for massive cuts to railway budgets.

'We need the ambition, capacity and skills to massively increase the volume of freight moved by rail and water every year, yet the Government's own statistics show that piecemeal funding to rail freight continues whilst the Government plans huge cuts to jobs on our railway and refuse to intervene to protect seafarer jobs.

'Transport workers are green workers. In the year of COP26 the Government has to get serious about using public money to cut pollution, increase jobs and deliver carbon free public transport networks across the UK as soon as possible.'

Editors' Notes

  1. Grant schemes to fund modal shift of freight to rail and water have been updated by the Department for Transport https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/department-for-transport-delivers-more-grant-funding-to-transport-freight-by-rail
  2. Freightliner, which has made redundancies during the pandemic, received over £8m in Modal Shift Revenue Support (MSRS) in January 2021 alone.
  3. Road freight operators regularly receive the MSRS grant.
  4. No shipping company has received the Waterborne Freight Grant for inland or maritime freight movements since 2014.
  5. RMT estimate that nearly 10% of UK Ratings jobs have been cut from the seafarer workforce by private employers during the pandemic.
  6. Statistics showing amount of Freight moved and lifted by rail https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/media/1820/table-1350-rail-freight-market-share.ods