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Rail track plan alarms freight groups

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Government plans to give greater control of rail infrastructure to passenger franchises has caused concern in the freight industry.

The new rail strategy, set out in “Connecting People: a strategic vision for rail”, says: “We will roll out joint teams running day to day track and train operations focused on delivering for passengers.”

This was described by the Rail Freight Group as “uncomfortable for freight businesses and customers, who operate across the national rail network, and who expect the infrastructure to be managed impartially”.

Christopher Snelling, Freight Transport Association’s head of national policy, said: “If the track operations are more closely intertwined with a passenger operator, there is a fear that when it comes to closures for works, or getting the tracks working again after a disruption, freight operators could lose out to the partner’s own passenger train services. Even the perception that freight might get a worse deal in future could discourage users from turning to rail.”