Thursday, June 7, 2018

Mixed Results for Rail Freight in UK as Intermodal Tonnages Rise and Environmental Gains Lauded

Two New Reports Look at Aspects of Cargo Carriage on the Tracks
Shipping News Feature
UK – Today saw a new report published by Rail Delivery Group (RDG) which, unsurprisingly given the vested interests which make up the organisation, is lauding the undoubted environmental benefits of rail as against road haulage, as well as claiming substantial financial advantages for the transport mode and the economy when it comes to shifting freight around the UK.

The report, which can be read in full here, points out that 25% of all Britain’s imports carried by container complete a substantial part of their journey in the country on the tracks. The combined value of goods on freight carrying trains equates to £30 billion per annum and the RDG says this delivers benefits worth over £1.7bn per year to the UK economy.

The benefits, which it says arise through both productivity gains to freight customers and environmental gains to society, are seen not so much in the south east, but distributed across the country, with the North of England, Midlands and Scotland seeing the highest levels. Welcoming the report, Maggie Simpson, Rail Freight Group (RFG) Executive Director said:

”This work by the Rail Delivery Group highlights the very significant benefits that rail freight is providing to the UK each year, at over £60 for each and every household. Working together the rail freight industry and its customers are continuing to invest and develop new services to further increase these benefits.”

In other rail news the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has confirmed in its own report that over the year to April 2018, construction and international rail freight were the strongest performing sectors, with 1.5% and 13% growth respectively. This was despite an overall reduction of 1.7% with coal falling another 13% over the year. Again the RFG boss spoke up on this subject, emphasising the ever increasing amount of containerised traffic which partially makes up for any reduction in the traditional movement of some bulk cargoes such as coal, is helping the totals. She said:

”Although the headline results are disappointing we are pleased to see the continued growth in construction traffic, driven by an increased use of rail in support of UK infrastructure including house building, new roads and major projects. Over the coming year we are also expecting to see renewed growth in intermodal, with new terminals opening such as iPort at Doncaster and services starting from Port of Liverpool and elsewhere.”