Time to sort out road/rail balance

I HEARTILY agree with the views of Nita Tinn (Letters, September 12) that the time has come to reassess the road/rail balance in our region and related Government and EU funding – particularly in the light of environmental pollution and climate change. He

I HEARTILY agree with the views of Nita Tinn (Letters, September 12) that the time has come to reassess the road/rail balance in our region and related Government and EU funding - particularly in the light of environmental pollution and climate change.

Heavy goods vehicles account for at least 20 per cent of road traffic on the A14 in this area, contributing to pollution, congestion and delays. Switching freight traffic from road to rail is clearly the solution to this ongoing problem.

There is currently massive public spending provision in the Department for Transport (DfT) road building programme (some £13billion). Additionally, as Nita Tinn points out, the A14 is a key element of the EU TransEuropean Network (TEN) of freight routes, linking the European mainland with Britain and Ireland (Route 13 Felixstowe-Holyhead) for which EU funding is also available.

This EU funding is not restricted to roads - our European neighbours are currently building dedicated rail freight routes for the TransEuropean network and a priority section was recently opened between the Netherlands and Germany.


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I understand that the Government is currently reviewing its strategy and delivery on transport in the light of Sir Nicholas Stern's review of the economics of climate change and that any policy changes arising from that review will be taken into account before decisions on current proposals for new roads are taken.

The DfT already has a ports rail freight policy, which is aimed at switching freight traffic to and from UK ports from road to rail. Wider implementation of this policy for our region could alleviate congestion on existing roads serving south and east coast ports, including the whole length of the A14, as well as roads serving major production and distribution centres in the UK.

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Government commitment to the DfT's ports rail freight policy by switching significant levels of funding from new roads to rail freight routes would have enormous environmental (and health) benefits: noxious emissions from road freight traffic would be reduced, road congestion would be eased, road safety would be improved, the health and well-being of local communities would be safeguarded, and a considerable contribution would be made to meeting the Government's carbon emission reduction targets.

It would show the Government's real commitment to green issues and to the welfare of local communities. Perhaps it would also encourage individuals to take their own small steps towards reducing the pace of climate change - a win-win solution?

EILEEN COLLIER, Brampton

* YOU have to have a heart of stone not to smile at Offords' tireless - some in Godmanchester would say tiresome - anti-A14 campaigner Nita Tinn pushing for more rail freight improvements (Letters, September 12) to relieve 'congested roads such as the A14'.

Noble sentiments indeed, but written safe in the knowledge that any new railway freight route won't be going anywhere within a mile of her back yard - unlike the proposed route of the new A14.

NIGEL PAULEY, Almond Close, Godmanchester

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