The Department is increasing rail freight at the port of Liverpool by enhancing the Bootle branch line. This will double capacity from one to two freight paths per hour each way, and will be completed later this year.
Moving freight off the roads and on to rail is crucial if we are to cut carbon emissions. The changes that the Minister announced will be a very small contribution because the Government are planning a new road from the port of Liverpool through the Rimrose valley into my constituency, which will have precisely the opposite effect and increase emissions. Earlier, the Secretary of State told us that transport decarbonisation is at the heart of his plans. Do Ministers want to play their part in meeting Government targets or not? If they do, will they think again, look at the report produced by Arup for Sefton Council on alternatives to road from the port of Liverpool, and invest properly in rail freight?
Doubling capacity on the Bootle branch line is expected to meet forecast demand for the foreseeable future. Recent forecasts, unconstrained by limits on infrastructure capacity, indicate demand for 40 trains per day in each direction by 2043. Two paths per hour in each direction of course provides capacity for 48 freight trains per day. However, the nature of some freight requirements, particularly for shorter movements and smaller loads, means that road transport can sometimes be more economically efficient.