Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Freight by Rail Report Shows Effect on Road Haulage Industry and Environment

Increased Consumer Activity Spurs More Container Carriage on the Tracks
Shipping News Feature

UK – This month sees the publishing of a new report from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), the body consisting of Britain's passenger train operating companies, freight operators and Network Rail, dedicated to furthering the cause of rail services in the UK. The report, ‘Freight Britain’, undertaken by KPMG, analyses the financial, operational and investment performance of freight operators since privatisation and the impact these have had on the country’s road haulage and container carriage industries and the environment.

From research undertaken during 2013 the report estimates that freight delivers productivity gains for British businesses and congestion and environmental benefits totalling over £1.5 billion per year. Extrapolating the figures to the present day RDG estimates these benefits are now estimated to be worth over £1.6 billion annually.

The five major rail freight operators now transport goods worth over £30 billion every year and there has been a 30% rise in the movement of containers by rail since 2006, principally fuelled by the growing consumer goods market, with one in four containers entering the country now moved by rail.

Despite a 30% decline in train numbers since 2003, freight tonnage is up 30% resulting in an increase in tonnes per train of over 80%. RDG says that each train removes up to 76 lorries from Britain’s roads, resulting in 1.6 billion fewer kilometres in truck movements whilst cutting carbon emissions by up to 76%. Obviously as with all reports of this nature the facts have been presented in a form favouring the author’s sponsorship, but RDG insist that the growth in volumes has been possible through significant investments made by freight operators as well as ports, terminals and other customers, Network Rail and government. That in turn has allowed the sector to be more competitive, particularly with road transport, and savings to be passed down to the freight customer.

According to RDG alongside the transport costs factors, others such as reduced congestion and improved safety make the environmental benefits worth over £0.5 billion a year to the UK economy, whilst, with continued investment from all parties it is forecast (by KPMG) that the annual economic benefits generated by freight could rise to nearly £2 billion by 2023. Peter Maybury, Chairman of Freightliner and the RDG freight group, said:

“Investment and a commitment to service excellence has helped our sector to grow by 80% in the last 20 years, and increase its share of the market for transporting goods. The growth seen in the last 12 months underlines how vital the sector is to maintaining Britain's economic competitiveness.

“Freight operators also play a key role in supporting the operation and reliability of GB rail, moving materials needed for crucial network improvements and keeping lines clear in times of severe weather. Greater certainty in the long-term charging and regulatory regimes will help provide the stability needed to ensure continued investment in the future, and allow us to build on our success and further increase the benefits of rail freight to the UK economy.”