Rail freight fears

SIR - St Albans or St Artic? If you study Helioslough s application for a rail freight terminal you will find very few references to road to road freight traffic. All the documents seem to stress the rail to road benefits possibly because a road to road f

SIR - St Albans or St Artic?

If you study Helioslough's application for a rail freight terminal you will find very few references to road to road freight traffic. All the documents seem to stress the rail to road benefits possibly because a road to road freight terminal would be unlikely to get approval to be built on Green Belt land.

Document 115, section 1.59 of the application states that only 35 per cent of the terminal's HGV traffic will be generated by road to rail movements so that 65 per cent of the terminal's HGV movements over our roads will just be bringing goods in and then out again, i.e. it is primarily a road freight terminal.

The 35 per cent figure is unlikely to be met as this probably relies on the lowering of the rail track through two of the tunnels on the main line into London to allow the efficient use of Euro-size container wagons. To lower the track I assume they will have to close off half the track into London on an already crowded line and commuters can look forward to months of delays and overcrowding if the work ever goes ahead.


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In Helioslough's Environmental Statement Part III Chapter 6 - Air Quality (Doc 116 sect 6.88) it quotes: "The transfer of freight from road to rail would cause a very large reduction in total carbon dioxide and oxides of nitrogen emissions. It would also, however, cause a very large increase in total PM10 emissions across this wider transport network."

However in Helioslough's Development Specification Document (Doc 120 page 25) it quotes: "By transferring freight from road to rail, the scheme is expected to bring about very large reductions in the emissions of the most important greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, across the wider transport network. This change in transport mode would also give rise to very large reductions in emissions of oxides of nitrogen." Did you spot the difference?

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In the Development Specification Document, summarising the application, they seem to have accidentally missed off the line about PM10 emissions. To quote online sources: "There is a link between increase in PM10 levels and a rise in death rate, increased hospital admissions, and asthma incidence. The elderly and those with chronic heart or lung disease are most at risk." PM10 emissions also affect children as they are still developing their lungs and immune systems.

So if you are elderly, have children, value your health, drive locally, commute by train into London, etc., then you should do all you can to prevent the rail freight terminal from being built. If not, then St Albans is in danger of being renamed to St Artic after the patron saint of road freight terminals.

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