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Help to change transport modes

Tunbridge Wells, UK: The Freight Transport Association has launched a free service aimed at helping potential users of rail and water freight make the best possible use of those modes.

The Mode Shift Centre is the result of discussions between FTA, government and the rail and water freight industries to try to raise awareness across the logistics sector of what other modes can offer as a complement to road.  The service will link with and expand the continuing work of Freight by Water – the UK’s Short-sea Promotion Centre, which FTA took on at the end of 2010.

Christopher Snelling, FTA’s head of supply chain policy, said: “To meet the needs of the modern supply chain, and to meet our challenging climate change targets, it is vital that all aspects of the supply chain are used to their fullest extent.  Our aim is to help those potential users that are not yet familiar with non-road operations to learn more about them in a non-commercial environment.”

Many major shippers, such as supermarkets and manufacturers, are already making use of rail and water transport.  But smaller shippers, hauliers and forwarders may not yet be making use of all the potential benefits.

Snelling said: “The Mode Shift Centre aims to supply the information needed for shippers, hauliers and forwarders who are unfamiliar with these alternative modes to understand their possibilities and to start exploring their potential.”

To help launch the Mode Shift Centre, FTA has produced ‘On Track’ – a report that documents the successful use retailers are making of rail freight today, exploring why it works for them.  Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, the Co-Op and B&Q all contributed case studies to the report.  It also draws out the factors limiting further use of rail.

The FTA intends to follow this up with a second publication aimed at water freight services that will cover the whole of the market.  Snelling said: “With an unparalleled range of contacts in the rail and water freight industries, the Centre can offer advice on the potential suitability of particular goods flows to these modes.  It can equip prospective users with a working knowledge of current freight services, identify terminal locations and capabilities and provide shortlists of the right potential service providers and advisers who can take the interest on to the next step.”