Rail freight at record levels

Rail freight has set new records since the 1990’s privatisation, according to the latest ORR freight rail usage statistics.  22.7 billion net tonne kilometres were moved in 2013-14, an increase of 5.8% on 2012-13. Coal was the largest single traffic source and accounted for 8.1 billion net tonne kilometres.

The annual freight lifted – the weight of goods carried – also reached a record 116.6 million tonnes in 2013-14.

A Rail Delivery Group (RDG)/KPMG report claims that rail freight benefits the UK economy by more than £1.5bn every year through improved productivity and reduced congestion. It says rail freight saves 7.6 million lorry movements each year.

Freight traffic is booming
Freight traffic is booming. Aggregates train on GWML.

Rail has an 11% modal share: It accounts for 25% of inland deep sea container movements, 40% of London raw construction material, and 50% of fuel deliveries to power stations. However, Network Rail forecasts coal volumes could drop by 80% by 2023 but the loss is expected to be made good by growth in other traffics.

Freight train productivity has greatly improved: trains are now longer and heavier, but there a third fewer of them than there were a decade ago.


RDG: The value of rail freight to the UK economy

648/May 14

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