Letter: How to put loads on the right track

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The Independent Online
Sir: Nobody questions the desirability of moving freight from road to rail. The plain fact is that there are much better ways of achieving this than allowing limited use of 44-ton lorries. For a start, the Government's plan does not apply to bulk road/rail movements of commodities such as gases and cement or to 'piggy-back' trailers. And the Government has yet to identify one commodity that will move to rail as a result of its proposals.

You argue that Freight Transport Association figures on the benefits of 44 tons across the board should be regarded with suspicion. They are based on specific examples from companies such as ICI, Esso, Scottish and Newcastle, and British Sugar, and take account of empty running. Petrol tankers have little option but to return empty, for example. Separate research by the Transport Research Laboratory has produced similar figures.

The Government's decision is likely to prove costly. Multi-million pound investment plans for new vehicles have been put back on the shelf and industry is to be denied the right to operate to maximum efficiency. Where is the sense in that?

Yours faithfully,


Freight Transport Association

Tunbridge Wells, Kent

5 August