A14 CONGESTION RELIEF PLAN REJECTED

A plan aimed at getting freight off the congested A14 and onto rail has been rejected by European chiefs in Brussels.

Now two Coventry MEPs  are asking the EU Commission to think again.

MEP Daniel Dalton said, “Getting freight off our roads, particularly the heavily congested A14, must be a priority and I am surprised and saddened by this decision.”

£86million was being sought for the £300million scheme to improve the rail line between Felixstowe, Britain’s busiest container port, and Birmingham. The plan to upgrade the track and signalling would have allowed 18 more freight trains to the West Midlands each day. That equates to 800,000 fewer lorries on the A41 a year.

The Commission has refused the funding saying it doesn’t add enough benefit for the whole of Europe despite the Transport Commissioner originally backing the proposal.

 MEP Anthea McIntyre said: "This scheme is good for the West Midlands, but it is equally good for Europe as a whole. This is one of the major trading routes in the whole of the EU.  We hope this is just a miscalculation or a misjudgement that can soon be reconsidered. Getting such massive volumes of freight off our busy roads and onto the railways has to make sense.

Daniel added, “British taxpayers help fund the EU budget - we should get our fair share back. We have had success in bidding for EU grants on this line in the past and we want to be able to ensure that when we resubmit the bid it is successful."

The next round of bidding is in six months. If rejected again the scheme is likely to proceed in a scaled-down form.