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  • Britain relies on rail freight

    Rail freight is vital to Britain’s economic success. It contributes £870 million to the economy and plays a big part in reducing congestion and carbon emissions.

  • Freight depotRail freight: Reducing carbon emissions  

    We have published a study into the value and importance of rail freight. It aims to set out the benefits rail freight brings to UK plc and more importantly why we need to continue to invest, plan and grow the rail freight business in this country.

    Rail freight is a success story. Whether it is taking lorries off the roads and drastically reducing congestion or transporting goods that we consume every day, the UK relies on rail freight to provide a faster, greener, safer and more efficient way of transporting goods than roads.

    The rail freight industry directly contributes £870 million to the nation’s economy every year, but supports an economic output of £5.9 billion, six times its direct turnover.

    In 2011/12 rail freight transported 101.7 million tonnes of goods worth over £30 billion.

    It is an indispensable part of the British economy, an essential component in supporting economic recovery and long term sustainable growth.

    We are enhancing the network to carry more freight traffic and make rail freight more competitive with other modes by increasing its efficiency. These schemes are branded as the 'Strategic Freight Network' [SFN].

    We’re on target to reduce costs by 2014. Read about how our initiatives to be more cost effective has led to efficiency payments to train and freight operators in December 2012.

    Demand to grow by over 30 per cent in the next decade

    Over the next decade, we expect freight demand to grow by at least 30 per cent, the equivalent of 240 additional freight trains a day, and by as much as 140 per cent over the next 30 years.

    To cater for this growth Network Rail, in partnership with the rest of the rail industry, will continue to work with business and government to move more freight off Britain’s roads, improving our quality of life and substantially reducing carbon emissions.

    Key facts

    • The UK rail freight sector contributes £299 million in profits and wages to the UK economy
    • On average a gallon of fuel will move a tonne of goods 246 miles on rail but only 88 miles by road
    • Each freight train takes about 60 HGVs off the roads