The development of high-speed rail links must be used as an opportunity to shift more freight onto the existing rail networks, according a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME).
The report, Integrated Transport, said the development of rail links such as the HS2 should increase network capacity for freight trains while overnight freight deliveries should increase, to take advantage of quieter train lines.
The report is calling on freight companies to work with the Department for Transport (DfT) to integrate road and rail freight networks and maximise off-peak use of the transport network.
Recent innovations in quieter vehicles and delivery systems can enable more efficient use of network capacity for freight, by allowing a higher proportion of loads to be delivered off-peak, at nights and weekends, it said.
The IME said more work was necessary to make transport more sustainable, including increasing the proportion of bicycle journeys and cutting CO2 emissions.
The report praises initiatives such as London’s Re-timing Deliveries Consortium, which is aiming to re-time deliveries across the capital to reduce traffic and congestion during peak periods and improve safety and air quality.
It also backs the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s calls for freight network capacity improvements through charging lorry users, increased urban hubs and further integrating road and rail freight networks.
The IME is calling on the DfT to review current and planned infrastructure projects and develop a strategy to integrate them as part of a single transport network by the end of 2020.