What level of ambition is achievable and worthwhile for rail freight?

An ambitious growth strategy for rail freight could generate between £75-90bn in environmental and economic benefits over the coming decade, according to a new report published today (23 September) by Rail Freight Group.  The study, undertaken by Stephen Joseph Associates highlights how a new approach from national and local Governments, along with continued investment from the industry could unlock growth significantly in excess of current projections.

The report, which has been based on a review of existing literature, highlights the key areas necessary to unlock growth which include;

  • Accelerated investment in the Strategic Freight Network to unlock capacity and improve train efficiencies;
  • Electrification of core routes to further improve rail freight’s environmental benefits;
  • Promotion of new rail linked facilities and reform of planning law to support a greater uptake of rail;
  • Investment and support for new rail freight services including high speed freight to city centres;
  • Increased grants and access charge discounts to encourage uptake
  • Mainstreaming rail freight in transport and industrial policy
  • Future changes to road pricing to support modal shift

Such measures will unlock greater benefits for the economy and environment arising from reduced congestion, improved road safety and road damage, and improved efficiency for customers.  There are also significant carbon savings arising from a greater use of rail.

RFG Director General, Maggie Simpson said: “With renewed focus on the environment, and with new trade opportunities on the horizon there has never been a better time to invest in rail freight.  This report shows how a strategic and targeted programme from Government could encourage new private investment and unlock very significant benefits for the country.”

Read the full report here: Rail freight ambitions final Appendix