Rail freight customs proposal tackles post-Brexit congestion concerns

Rail freight in the uk
Credit: Dan Sutcliffe

Rail Delivery Group has announced that the creation of new Railway Customs Area (RCA) at rail freight terminals would avoid the need for a border checkpoint and removes the prospect of congestion on the rail network in Kent after Brexit.

It also secures the £1.7bn economic benefits each year delivered by rail freight.

Imports from the Channel Tunnel by rail would avoid congestion at a single border point through the introduction of new RCAs across the country.

Currently, rail freight that comes from the European Union operates without the need for customs declarations, but there is a site at each side of the tunnel for safety and security inspections.

Converting the site at Dollands Moor in Kent for customs use has the potential to create congestion and delays which would disrupt trading and business supply chains, in particular, ‘just in time’ manufacturing.

RCAs can be created to make sure imports reach their destination without delay. This is crucial for manufacturing supply chains as well as drinks imports. An example of this is car assembly parts are moved by rail to terminals in Daventry in the Midlands and Ditton in the North West, while bottled water from France is imported to Daventry.

The Rail Delivery Group will work with the government to ensure smooth and efficient rail freight movement after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

More than 2,000 trains transported 1.22 million tonnes of freight last year, excluding containers from ships. In the first three months of 2018, international rail freight across the channel increased to 100 million tonne-kilometres, up by a quarter (23%) when compared to the same period in 2017.

What did the officials say?

Paul Plummer, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, said:

“As we leave the European Union, the rail industry is united in wanting to secure imports through the Channel Tunnel and provide new opportunities for British businesses. Our proposals to create customs facilities at freight terminals support and complement the work ongoing in Government for customs controls post-Brexit and will prevent unnecessary congestion on the railway and clear the way for smooth trade with our partners in Europe.”

Hans-Georg Werner, Chief Executive of DB Cargo UK and Chairman of the RDG Freight Board, said:

“Every day our trains move tonnes of produce, goods and materials which keep the shops full and businesses moving. We will work with government to find a solution which is financially sustainable and underpin the future of £1.7billion benefits of rail freight for Britain, providing opportunities for business across the country after we leave the European Union.”

Maggie Simpson, Executive Director at the Rail Freight Group, said:

“Moving freight by rail is good for the environment, reduces road congestion and is safer than by road. We’re committed to growing rail freight through the Channel for the long-term which is why we welcome the rail industry’s proposals and support their engagement with government.”


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