Freight News, Rail

Rail could do even better, says minister – updated

[ September 13, 2016   //   ]

Rail freight currently carries one in four of the containers coming into our ports but could carry an even higher proportion, said rail minister Paul Maynard on publishing the government’s new Rail Freight Strategy on 13 September.
Rail reduces carbon emissions by around three quarters compared to road, and also significantly reduces local air pollution, road damage, traffic noise and accidents.
Since rail privatisation in the 1990s, the rail freight industry’s market share of freight transport has risen from around 5% to around 12%, he said. The industry has invested significantly on its own account, in rolling stock and terminals, in order to win new customers.
However, in the foreward to the report, Maynard acknowledged that the rail freight industry has faced a number of uncertainties over recent months, including the decline in traditional core markets such as coal and reduced Channel Tunnel traffic due to migrant activity at Calais.
According to the report, international freight only accounts for 2.7% of total rail freight in the UK (though that figures does not include intermodal traffic to and from UK ports, which is included in domestic intermodal freight which accounts for 36.2% of the total).
The report was welcomed by the Rail Freight Group (RFG) whose executive director Maggie Simpson, said: “The rail freight sector is changing and freight operators and their customers are working to deliver growth in new and existing markets and to be fit for the future. This strategy will help to provide the stable and supportive environment they need to do so, and we welcome its publication.”
The Freight Transport Association’s head of rail freight policy, Chris MacRae, added that rail had the potential for considerable growth in deep sea intermodal markets if investment in a strategic freight network continued.
But to win more domestic retail intermodal business, “the rail industry needs to address the challenges laid out in FTA’s Agenda for More Freight by Rail publication with cost reduction, faster end-to-end journeys and better network access,” he said.

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