CARRICK’S MP says a rise in the charges of rail freight will threaten local jobs.
Following a debate led by Sandra Osborne in the House of Commons last October, the MP has received a letter from Anna Walker, Chairwoman of the Office of the Rail Regulator, outlining a new package of charges for freight operators to access the rail network which will come into affect in 2016/17.
A charge of £4.04 per tonne will be added to the current track access charge of £2.83 per tonne. Ms Osborne says this will affect the surface mining coal industry in Cumnock and Doon Valley.
She said: “The Chairwoman of the ORR has told me that following representations from myself and others the introduction of new freight charges has been put back until 2016/17, will introduce the lowest of the proposed charges outlined in the consultation and the full cost will be phased in over three years.
“While I appreciate that this buys some time for the coal industry to adapt I remain of the view that these charges represent a real threat. This is especially the case given that 50% of coal produced in Scotland goes by rail to England every year.
“It makes no sense to add an extra burden on an industry already struggling and I will continue to work with the local companies to help in any way I can to preserve local jobs.”