19th January 2021: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

I congratulate the Minister on the welcome commitment to modal shift that she made in reply to the last question. Is she aware, however, that extended journey times caused by the need to change from diesel to electric traction are one of the greatest deterrents to growing the rail freight business? The EU Goods Sub-Committee recently took evidence from a major freight operator which said it would it prefer to use the railway from east coast ports like Felixstowe, but journey times by road to the midlands and the north were much shorter. Will the Minister encourage her department to look at modest electrification projects that would make a real difference to the rail freight business?
Reply from Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con):

Of course, we will look at modest electrification projects when and if they are brought forward. The issue of journey times is important, but rail freight has the advantage of being able to carry less urgent goods—heavy construction materials, for example—over long distances. Therefore, it can be used for lots of different types of freight, which is to its advantage.

A link to the complete debate here