Public Sector: Aslef lobbies for more rail freight

Train drivers' union Aslef is pushing for more freight to be transferred onto rail as the Government threatens to tackle road congestion with pay-as-you-go charges.

The PR push coincides with heightened public debate on climate change, set to be an issue discussed by world leaders at the forthcoming G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland.

The campaign - badged 'who cares?' - begins with a lobbying drive to boost interest in the congestion issue across Whitehall. The union is also asking the Government to provide tax incentives to companies that use the railways for freight forwarding.

Aslef will urge ministers to put pressure on Network Rail to build more hub stations dedicated to transferring rail freight between lorries and trains.

The union is consulting other trade bodies, haulage companies, freight customers and environmental and transport groups on education packs. The packs will be sent to schools and will appear on a forthcoming website.

'If you take heavy lorries off the road you will clear the motorways, which have a positive effect on the environment without affecting consumer lifestyles - one of the Government's major concerns,' said Aslef comms adviser Chris Proctor.

Barriers to rail haulage include a lack of knowledge that the service is available and a dearth of rail transport hubs, Proctor added.

Each freight train effectively removes 50 lorries from the roads, according to Aslef figures.

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