Recent research has revealed strong demand among Scottish manufacturers for improved international freight transport links. The development of new Channel Tunnel services will help to meet this demand. International road haulage, which currently handles the majority of Scottish unitized freight, will nevertheless derive relatively little benefit from the tunnel shuttle service. The new through-rail services will provide a much greater opportunity for Scottish exporters. Although not necessarily depressing freight rates, they should be able to offer shorter and more reliable transit times and thus strengthen the competitive position of the high-value, time-sensitive products which account for the majority of Scotland's exports to Europe. The use of small-wheeled rolling stock on these services is likely to be sub-optimal, though, for Scotland, the enlargement of the rail loading gauge only as far as a London or Midlands railhead would prove more problematic. The paper assesses the likely utilization of the through-rail services and confirms, on the basis of new market research, that official forecasts are of the right order of magnitude. Doubt is expressed, however, about the ability of the Eurofreight terminal planned for North Lanarkshire to act as a nucleus for industrial and distribution development. The new Channel Tunnel freight services are likely to have a positive effect on the Scottish economy, though their influence on the volume and pattern of the region's trade with Europe is likely to be modest. © 1994.
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|Published - Jan 1994