The decision by planning authorities to give permission Howbury Park rail freight interchange in Dartford, South East has been warmly welcomed by the Freight on Rail group. RFG is a partnership consisting of various rail freight operators, the Rail Freight Group, Network Rail, the transport trade unions and the Campaign for Better Transport, which states that the new freight interchange will help the capital by reducing air pollution, congestion, traffic incidents and carbon emissions. Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail Manager said:
“Howbury Park will allow consumer goods to be transported to London by rail and then transferred into low emissions vehicles for final deliveries across the capital. Interchanges like Howbury enable rail freight to compete with freight lorries because they reduce the transhipment costs between the modes. Rail freight, which produces 90% less PM10 particulates and up to 15 times less nitrogen dioxide emissions than HGVs for the equivalent journey, provides part of the solution to London’s air pollution.”
The long delayed Howbury interchange is part of a new network of strategic rail freight interchanges being developed in the UK, so that consumer freight can be transported long distance by rail to the edge of conurbations. This development consists of a 149-acre site located close to the M25 motorway, which provides road links to the south eastern main road network particularly the A13, A2 and M20.
Enthusiasts claim the rail freight interchange will also enable more container traffic from main UK ports or the Channel Tunnel to unload closer to central London.
The intention to increase rail freight traffic is good, but those who design the infrastructure cannot avoid the ‘final mile’ problem.