The Situation Railfreight mostly lost the wagonload market, such as deliveries to shops and so on, to road freight in the 50s and 60s as the cost of transhipment to and from the road vehicles used for the first and last miles was higher than the cost of using a single road based movement over the distances experienced in the UK. Containerisation has helped somewhat but the improvements in efficiency of HGVs and the dismantling of the majority of the freight transport infrastructure on the railways has rendered a return to railfreight using these systems impractical. The Proposal However, the rise of the supermarket and hypermarket has created a situation where an increasing amount of retail trading is occuring in at a smaller and smaller collection of point sites. The majority of these sites are either adjacent to existing railway rights of way, adjacent to abandoned but still restorable railway rights of way or simply on the outskirts of towns. This means that in principle building spurs to the majority of these sites would not be that expensive and in the future planning permission for such large shops could be granted on condition that rail links to it are relatively easy to implement. Under normal circumstances a freight train is far too large to serve even an enormous supermarket/hypermarket, however various designs of "Freight Multiple Unit" have now begun to appear, for example the "CargoSprinter" that has spawned the MPVs in use by Network Rail. These trains are designed to handle freight of roughly 10 TEUs whether it be in the form of containers, swap bodies or even simple bogie wagons, they can operate using push-pull working at up to 75mph and have acceleration far superior to that of a conventional freight train. Groups of up to eight units can also be coupled into a single rake in only a few minutes, allowing them to use only one path for large parts of the journey and conserving fuel. I would propose that supermarkets and other similar ventures should be made to switch as much traffic between distribution centers and large stores to small "Freight Multiple Units" as is practical. An infrastructure of sidings, loading docks and freight spurs would be built, financed largely by the money that would be saved by averting many of the nearly 700 road fatalities each year that involve HGVs and by the money that will saved from the road maintenance budget as these heavy vehicles are taken off the road. The Freight Multiple units do have an achilles heel in the form of a large purchase price which could discourage the private sector from switching to them. This problem would be avoided by the creation of a public sector "Light Freight Corporation" that would purchase the trains using public funding. The start up costs (in the form of a low interest loan) would be recovered from any surpluses the operator obtains once the system is in full operation. Track access charges would be reformed to reflect the unique nature of "Freight Multiple Unit" traffic as currently it is hamstrung by the pricing arrangements designed for conventional freight trains. The operator would also be watched like a Hawk to ensure it was not competing with conventional railfreight for contracts unlike the Supermarket supply chain business but would otherwise be free to innovate and attempt to find new markets. In addition development would be undertaken to develop Electrodiesel Freight Multiple units similar in capability to the CargoSprinter and perhaps even single or two wagon multiple units to enable still smaller cargo loads to be efficiently transported. Benefits to the Public HGV Traffic is significantly reduced, reducing the number of road deaths Carbon Dioxide emissions are reduced significantly Road maintenance bills are reduced due to lesser HGV traffic Reduced road traffic due to removal of significant numbers of slow HGVs The increased rail traffic would improve the business case for electrification and other capacity improvements Benefits to the businesses served Thanks to the integrated timetabling associated with rail travel, punctuality of deliveries would be improved, reducing uncertainties in relation to "just in time" delivery planning. Decreased transit time thanks to the ability for freight multiple units to run at higher speeds than HGVs, which are currently limited to 56mph by law, while using less fuel. This would prove especially useful with perishable goods. Reduced staffing costs due to the replacement of five or even forty (in large rakes) drivers with two train crew (or one, if DOO was approved for the units) Various Problems All existing Freight Multiple units are electric or diesel-hydraulic, creating the Electrodiesels required for this plan to show optimum results could prove challenging however the power outputs are quite low so it should be soluble As a 25kV bus on such a train is impractical, each unit would require two pantographs up under electric power, this could cause a rake of eight units in-multiple to have up to sixteen pans, potentially causing problems for the OHLE, however the relatively low speeds should make this acceptable. Constructing the infrastructure required could require stretches of street running to reach shops without large expensive viaducts, this could be troublesome with existing safety regs Ofcourse, this would never happen but I think its an interesting idea myself.