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New figures show rail freight is far better at reducing congestion than previously thought

22 May 2017

Rail freight’s ability to reduce road congestion is far greater than previously thought, according to figures released by Campaign for Better Transport.

Latest figures given to Campaign for Better Transport by the Daventry Intermodal Rail Freight Terminal reveal it has removed 64 million miles of lorry journeys from UK roads in the last year alone, almost three times more than previously thought.  

Philippa Edmunds, Freight-on-Rail Manager at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “These latest figures confirm what we have long argued, that the best way to reduce road congestion, collisions and pollution is integrated rail and road planning, not adding ever more lanes to motorways.

“Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges like Daventry are important economic generators and show the way the private sector is investing in and supporting rail freight. What we need now is for the Government to follow the private sector’s lead and support rail freight by upgrading the existing network and setting affordable charges to enable rail to remove even more lorries from our congested roads.”

Rail Freight Interchanges enable rail to compete with HGVs by reducing the transhipment costs. Daventry Intermodal Rail Freight Terminal employs over 5000 people and is forecast to employ up to 9000 when its new terminal opens. Other new rail freight interchanges are coming on stream designed to create a larger network of rail freight hubs to provide a catalyst for significant new business between the UK, mainland Europe and beyond. Four Ashes Strategic Rail Freight Interchange, near Wolverhampton, is currently going through the planning system and Doncaster I Port has a strategic rail freight interchange opening later this year.

These latest figures support previous research by consultants MTRU for Campaign for Better Transport which found that upgrading existing rail lines running parallel to strategic motorway routes would help reduce road congestion and improve productivity.


For further information please contact Alice Ridley on 020 7566 6495 / 07984 773 468 or alice.ridley@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  1. It was previously thought that Daventry Intermodal Rail Freight Terminal removed 23 million lorry miles per year from the strategic road network.
  2. All figures supplied by W H Malcolm, which runs the Daventry Intermodal Rail Freight Terminal:


Lorry Miles removed            
Route between  Daventry and: No of train services per day No of days a week services operate Frequency (weeks per year) Load (no of containers per train) Equivalent round trip by road in miles No of lorry miles removed per year (services x days x frequency x loads x equivalent miles)
London 1 6 52 34 195 2,068,560


1 6 52 30 290 2,714,400


2 6 52 34 230 4,800,000
Continental 2 6 52 40 900 22,464,000
All Daventry to Scotland services 5 6 52 30 normal

(1 service is 34)

682 32,768,736
  Total         64,815,696


  1. Because of their weight and size, HGVs were almost six times more likely to be involved in fatal collisions on minor roads than cars in 2015. Lorries were involved in almost half fatal collisions on motorways even though they only accounted for 11 per cent of motorway vehicle miles in 2014. Source: Traffic statistics table TRA0104, Accident statistics Table RAS 30017, Department for Transport.
  2. Campaign for Better Transport commissioned research, Impact on congestion of transfer of freight from road to rail on key strategic corridors, which was sponsored by the Department for Transport, focused on three heavily congested freight routes: the A14 between Felixstowe and the Midlands, the A34 from Southampton to the Midlands, and the M6 and M62 motorways. The two A roads have up to 6,500 of the largest HGVs (5 and 6 Axle articulated lorries) on the corridors each day, between 10 per cent and 17 per cent of all traffic, and the M6 motorway has over 13,500 of the largest HGVs a day and on the M62 over 11,000. This represents 10-12 per cent of all traffic on the two motorway sections.
  3. Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges offer ancillary services such as warehousing and container handling to reduce the transhipment costs between road and rail and make rail freight more financially viable.
  4. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).