ASLEF Evidence Submission - Department for Transport - Infrastructure for zero emission heavy goods vehicles and coaches

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ASLEF's evidence submission to the DfT on infrastructure for zero emission HGVs & coaches
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From 19 October 2023 to 14 December 2023 the DfT welcomed evidence submissions on their inquiry in to infrastructure requirements for zero emission HGV and coaches. 

Below is ASLEF's response:

ASLEF Call for Evidence Response – Department for Transport - Infrastructure for zero emission heavy goods vehicles and coaches

  1. The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) is the UK’s largest train driver’s union representing just under 22,000 members in train operating companies, freight companies as well as London Underground and light rail systems.   

     
  2. We welcome the opportunity to respond to the DfT’s investigation into the current and future supply, update and use of zero emission heavy goods vehicles and coaches across the UK, inclusive of their refuelling and recharging requirements. As a trade union representing train drivers working for freight operators, we understand the importance of intermodal movement of freight across the UK and the value that rail freight brings to the UK both environmentally by removing up to 129 HGVs and reducing CO2 emissions by 76% and economically contributing £2.45bn in economic benefits every year[1].             

     
  3. We have long campaigned for an increase in rail freight to help the UK reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the volume of traffic on the roads with road vehicles completing the last mile of delivery, we have highlighted this as part of our Rail Freight campaign[2].         
     
  4. Whilst the inquiry is focusing on zero emission HGVs we believe that due to the interconnected nature of the freight and logistics sector it is important that a wholistic approach is taken and as such we wanted to highlight how factoring in the rail network can assist with the current and future zero emission HGV take up and recharging requirements.      

     
  5. As we highlighted in our evidence response on the Freight and logistics and the planning system[3], the effective use of a strategic rail freight interchange (SRFI) will allow cross modal movement of freight to the benefit of the economy and environment. To ensure that rail and road are properly connected and future proofed SRFIs should have appropriate welfare facilities for HGV and train drivers as well as charging and / or refuelling points for HGVs.             

     
  6. The facilities and refuelling/ charge points should however only be available for those authorised to use them at the SRFI, i.e. those moving freight in and out of a SRFI and they should not be seen as general-purpose facilities. This would encourage cross modal freight movements due to the access to these facilities. The focus should be on encouraging cross modal movements and utilising the rail freight network and its SRFIs to facilitate zero emission HGV charging and refuelling.

     
  7. We already have a solution to a lot of the concerns around the new battery and hydrogen technologies and the infrastructure needed for zero emission heavy good vehicles, this solution is the rail network. If the railways carry out large quantities of long-distance freight movement it would mean we would need less long distance HGVs which would require more refuelling or charging stops, it would also relieve the weight that these vehicles would bring to our roads which could cause further damage to the road network through pot holes. The reduction of damage to the road network would free up funding to be invested into other transport projects and remove the need to cut future transformative transport projects to maintain currently failing networks, as we saw with the cancelation of HS2 being used to help fill in potholes[4].         
                
     
  8. With regards to zero emission coaches consideration should be given to the rail network and if the routes these coaches are taking are already covered by the rail network and whether there is the potential for refuelling / charging to be planned at or near a railway station to allow passengers to transfer directly from a train to a zero emission coach which the operator has been able to charge / refuel near their pickup point. 
     

Mick Whelan 
ASLEF
General Secretary
77 St John Street
London
EC1M 4NN