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Rail freight delivering economic benefits to UK – RDG

It is estimated that UK businesses are saving £1bn a year by using rail freight to transport goods, following a significant period of industry investment, a new Rail Delivery Group (RDG) report has revealed. 

Based on analysis carried out by KPMG, the study – Keeping the lights on and the traffic moving – highlighted that a further £500 m a year of economic, environmental and social benefits come from rail freight reducing the number of lorries on the UK’s roads. For instance, in 2013 alone, more than 7.6million road journeys were saved by transporting goods by rail. 

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 £1.5bn 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. 

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. 

It is also expected that 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. 

John Smith, managing director of GB Railfreight and a member of the RDG, said:  “This report reiterates the vital contribution that rail freight makes to the UK economy: delivering goods, helping to build new infrastructure, servicing our railways and removing lorries from the roads. 

“The opportunity is there to double the size of the sector over the next three years and we are committed to delivering this growth.” 

It was highlighted that rail freight transports goods worth £30bn a year, moving one in four of the containers entering the UK and half of the fuel used in electricity generation. And, according to the chief executive of the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), Richard Price, rail freight “is the most transformed sector in the rail industry since privatisation.”

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