A £25 million Scottish rail freight fund has been confirmed to strengthen the industry in the next five years.
The rail freight investment in Scotland has been secured by ring-fenced funds which guarantee that the Scottish government is committed to spending this money on freight in the next half decade.
Michael Matheson, the government’s Transport Secretary, announced the Scottish rail freight fund as part of a visit to the Freightliner Terminal in Coatbridge.
He said the government will work with Network Rail to ensure greater business focus in rail, for services that will reduce pollution and are “vital” to Scotland’s economic growth.
He said: “This government has a strong track record of support for rail freight which we are committed to taking forward over the next five year funding period.
“We know that rail freight and modal shift to rail reduces road congestion, improves air quality, and reduces emissions.
“Rail freight services are vital to sustainable economic growth across Scotland.
“This fund will support the development and delivery of strategic rail freight projects which improve capacity and capability.
“It aims to build on and complement our existing and future investment in Scotland’s railways.
“Working with Network Rail, we are also encouraging a sharper business focus and setting challenging but achievable regulatory targets for freight in terms of average speed, performance and growth.”
The Scottish rail freight fund will be open to the likes of Transport Scotland, Network Rail and other industry partners within freight to put together proposals for those improvements that meet freight modal shift objectives.
The Scottish government is also welcoming “innovative” proposals that meet objectives but negate the need for costly infrastructure upgrades.
Moving more freight to rail is also an important aspect of clean air policies that bring down pollution and, as a result of fewer vehicles on roads, make them safer too.