The fund is open to organisations across the industry, including Network Rail and Transport Scotland. They can table proposals for improvements that meet objectives in terms of shifting freight movements to rail. Proposals may involve infrastructure upgrades other aspects of rail freight such as innovations in wagons or locomotives.
Transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “We know that rail freight and modal shift to rail reduces road congestion, improves air quality, and reduces emissions.
“Rail freight services are vital to sustainable economic growth across Scotland. This fund will support the development and delivery of strategic rail freight projects which improve capacity and capability. It aims to build on and complement our existing and future investment in Scotland’s railways.”
Paul McMahon, managing director of freight and national passenger operators at Network Rail, added: “Over the next five years we’ve committed to working with our industry partners to get new traffic onto Scotland’s rails and today’s announcement is welcome. We understand that Network Rail is vital to supporting freight growth, but this will only be realised by working in partnership with the wider industry. That’s why, in April, we launched the Industry Plan for Freight Growth in Scotland and this will help us to achieve the ambitions set out in that plan.”
Rail Freight Group director general Maggie Simpson added: "This commitment from Scottish Government is welcome news for the rail freight industry and will allow vital upgrades to Scotland’s railways, unlocking capacity and capability for new services. This is good news for freight customers, for the Scottish economy and for the environment."
The Fund will be administered by Transport Scotland and a new Scottish Rail Freight Forum will be established including members from across the industry.