British businesses are saving £1bn a year – or £2.7m a day – by using rail to transport goods, according to a new report published by the Rail Delivery Group.
A further £500 million a year of economic, environmental and social benefits come from rail freight reducing the number of lorries on roads. Last year, more than 7.6million road journeys were saved by transporting goods by rail, the equivalent of around 7,000 HGVs driving from London to Edinburgh every day, says the report based on analysis carried out by accountants KPMG.
Since freight was opened up to private competition and investment in the mid-nineties, billions of pounds have been invested in the sector, including on more efficient, longer trains which each carry an average of 50% more cargo than 10 years ago.
Over the next five years, rail freight operators plan to invest hundreds of millions of pounds to carry more goods, faster, more efficiently and with even greater reliability.
Investment has helped rail freight in Britain grow by 70% in the past 20 years and increase its share of the market for transporting goods, in contrast to some still largely European state-run railways.
The sector is now vital to Britain’s economic competitiveness. It transports over £30 billion worth of goods a year from supermarket groceries and premium whiskies to over half the fuel delivered to power stations to generate electricity.
Rail freight also helps ensure British manufacturing can compete globally by sending products on the first leg of their global journey, connecting factories with container ports.
Peter Maybury, chairman of Freightliner and the RDG freight group, said: “High levels of private sector investment and innovation matched by significant infrastructure improvement are now helping rail freight to bring £1.5 billion a year of benefits to Britain’s businesses and the wider economy.
“Rail freight helps keep shop shelves stocked and the power on while taking thousands of lorries off the roads, reducing harmful emissions and keeping Britain competitive in the global economy.
“Rail freight has been transformed over the past two decades and is set to keep growing. By continuing to drive efficiency and improve performance, operators could help more than double the size of the sector over the next three decades and increase the economic benefits of rail freight to over £4 billion a year.”
Report available at the link http://www.raildeliverygroup.com/wp-content/uploads/file/Keeping%20the%20lights%20on%20and%20the%20traffic%20moving.pdf