Rail Freight in Great Britain - Rail Freight Current Operations - D

Rail Freight in Great Britain - D

Rail Freight Current Operations

Goods carried by rail are either intermodal (container) freight or trainload freight which includes coal, metals, oil, and construction materials.

There are four main freight rail operating companies in the UK: Direct Rail Services, Freightliner, DB Cargo UK (formerly EWS), and GB Railfreight. There are also three smaller independent operators, which are Colas Rail, DCRail and Mendip Rail. The Rail Delivery Group set up by the DfT includes representatives of rail freight companies.

Statistics on freight are specified in terms of the weight of freight lifted, and the net tonne kilometre, being freight weight multiplied by distance carried. 116.6 million tonnes of freight was lifted in the 2013-4 period, against 138 million tonnes in 1986-7, a decrease of 16%. However, a record 22.7 billion net tonne kilometres (14 billion net ton miles) of freight movement were recorded in 2013-14, against 16.6 billion (10.1 billion) in 1986-7, an increase of 38%.

Coal used to make up around 36% of the total net tonne kilometre, though its share is declining. Rail freight has slightly increased its market share since privatisation (by net tonne kilometres) from 7.0% in 1998 to 9.1% in 2011 and around 12% in 2016. Recent growth is partly due to more international services including the Channel Tunnel and Port of Felixstowe, which is containerised. Nevertheless, network bottlenecks and insufficient investment in catering for 9' 6" high shipping containers currently restrict growth.


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