Freight train

Rail freight sector courts next government for investment

Rail Freight Group (RFG) has launched its “Delivered by Rail Freight” manifesto, a cross-industry campaign to emphasise the crucial role of rail in freight transportation across Britain.

The manifesto sets out the rail freight industry’s environmental and economic credentials, as the sector seeks investment from the next government.

RFG says that potential benefits of moving a higher portion of freight transportation onto the railway include meeting carbon reduction targets and fostering economic and employment growth across the UK.

RFG’s manifesto states that a single freight train can carry the equivalent of up to 129 HGVs while emitting 76% less CO2 per tonne, and can be worth around £1.5 million in benefits to the economy.

To this end, a recent report by the Office of Rail and Road found that almost 200,000 freight trains ran on the UK rail network between April 2023 and March 2024, equivalent to between 5.5-6 million lorry journeys.

"Delivered by Rail Freight" manifesto cover

Maggie Simpson OBE, Director General of RFG, said: "Rail freight benefits everyone, whether it's turning on the lights, shopping, or enjoying a glass of wine.”

“Expanding rail freight across the nation will facilitate the transition of essential goods to rail, bolstering both the economy and the environment.”

“The rail freight sector is committed to growth and is investing in facilities, equipment, technology, people and skills. We are calling on the incoming government to match this ambition through interventions that can help rail freight to thrive.”

Rail freight has a wide-ranging set of plans for growth, including investment into state-of-the-art facilities, locomotives and wagons, and the introduction of data-driven technology to revolutionise operations.

In order to meet these targets, RFG has urged the incoming government to invest strategically in rail infrastructure. For example, the RFG claims that funding 60 miles of missing electrification could lead to the electrification of over two million freight trains annually.

Image credit: iStock, Rail Freight Group

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