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UK freight rail traffic spikes

Last month, we reported that the long-term freight rail industry outlook appeared bright, but that rail freight would continue to trail trucking freigh...

Freddie Pierce
|Jun 14|magazine6 min read

Last month, we reported that the long-term freight rail industry outlook appeared bright, but that rail freight would continue to trail trucking freight for the foreseeable future.

Earlier this month, U.S. freight rail helped North American surface trade reach an all-time high.

Now, it appears as if the UK’s freight rail traffic is witnessing a spike. According to a report on the Financial Times, UK freight rail traffic has risen sharply over the past quarter despite some predicting a downturn in the industry.

Rising demand for consumer products, building materials and electrical components contributed to a 16.6 percent increase in freight rail volume moved over the same period last year, according to figures released by the Office of Rail Regulation.

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According to the Financial Times’ report, the biggest increase came in consumer goods, where freight rail is actually earning a market share. With fuel prices rising and improvements to rail infrastructure, a shift is being seen in the UK from the trucking industry to rail freight.

Adding to the unexpected spike is the UK government’s commitment of £200 million by 2014 to improve the existing freight rail network, as the country is trying to ease road congestion and halt carbon dioxide emissions. Some reported figures show freight rail produces 70 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than an equivalent trucking journey.

In the UK, rail currently accounts for 11 percent of total freight transportation, and the Network Rail has said the industry could see an 40 percent increase over the next decade.