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Rail freight volumes expand in key markets

24 February 2017

Consistent expansion in the key emerging consumer and construction rail freight markets both in the latest quarterly and the accumulative annual ORR figures, demonstrates confidence and the potential of the sector, according to Freight on Rail.

Consumer traffic¸ which has increased all year, grew over five per cent in quarter three compared to last year, setting a new record for the highest amount of freight moved per quarter since quarterly figures were issued in 1998/99.  Similar positive results for the construction sector which has also expanded all year grew by almost seven per cent in quarter three. 

Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail Manager, said:

“The Government said in its Freight Carbon Review earlier this month that ‘shifting freight from road to rail can result in significant CHG emission savings as well as economic and safety co-benefits.So, this statement combined with these growth figures illustrate why it is vital that the Government continues to support the expansion of the Strategic Rail Freight Network, to cater for the suppressed demand for rail freight services in these sectors. Every extra rail freight slot (path) out of Felixstowe can be filled immediately.

“Furthermore, the Government must recognise the market distortion between HGVs and rail in the forthcoming ORR review, and give rail freight affordable charges. Rail freight should have a key role in overcoming the air pollution crisis. Latest Government figures show that HGVs are responsible for 21 per cent of NOx emissions while accounting for five per cent of miles driven while rail produces up to 15 times less NOx emissions than HGVs.”

Construction and consumer freight combined accounted for just over 60 per cent of total freight moved this quarter. Metals, International, oil and petroleum all grew while coal traffic decreased significantly. Overall, the figures show that the industry is adjusting to the steep decline in coal traffic.  

For further information please contact Philippa Edmunds on 020 8241 9982 / 07593 976 548 or philippa.edmunds@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

[1] Read the latest Office of Rail and Road (ORR) freight usage figures from 23 February 2017 here – Freight Rail usage 2016-2017 Q3 statistical release

[2] Department for Transport (DfT) Freight Carbon Review February 2017. P43 Key messages

[3] Research carried out for the Campaign for Better Transport, (Addendum to Metropolitan Transport Research Unit MTRU 2014 report February 2015. Heavy Goods Vehicles – do they pay for the damage they cause 2014) using DfT criteria, (Latest DfT Mode Shift Benefit Values issued December 2014 were used) found that HGVs pay less than a third of the costs associated with their activities, in terms of road congestion, road collisions, road damage and pollution which equates to an annual subsidy of around £6.5 billion. These conclusions are in line with a MDS Transmodal study in 2007 which found a very similar amount of underpayment: £6billion. http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/media/25-february-2015-dangerous-dirty-and-damaging-new-research-reveals-impact-hgvs

[4] ORR PR18 Rail freight access charges Review

[5] DfT Freight Carbon Review February 2017. Page 7 & paragraph 3

[6] DfT Logistics Perspective December 2008

Freight on Rail is a partnership between Campaign for Better Transport, the rail freight industry and transport trade unions.