Russel freight train within dramatic grey sky

Rail freight

Rail freight is vital to Britain’s economic success. It contributes £870m to the economy and plays a big part in reducing congestion and carbon emissions

Freight train aggregate yard

We have published a study into the value and importance of rail freight. It aims to set out the benefits rail freight brings to British companies and more importantly why we need to continue to invest, plan and grow the rail freight business in this country.

The Value and Importance of Rail Freight - summary report (PDF, 2.9 MB)

The Value and Importance of Rail Freight - full report (PDF, 2.3 MB)

Britain relies on the railway

Rail freight is a success story. Whether it is taking lorries off the roads and drastically reducing congestion or transporting goods that we consume every day, Britain relies on rail freight to provide a faster, greener, safer and more efficient way of transporting goods than roads.

The rail freight industry directly contributes £870m to the nation’s economy every year, but supports an economic output of £5.9bn – six times its direct turnover.

It is an indispensable part of the British economy, and an essential component in supporting economic recovery and long-term sustainable growth.

Strategic Freight Network

We are enhancing the network to carry more freight traffic and make rail freight more competitive with other modes by increasing its efficiency. These schemes are branded as the Strategic Freight Network (SFN).

See our map of SFN completed schemes (PDF, 810 KB)

Enhanced (W10) loading gauge map of the network (PDF, 3 MB)

Demand to grow by over 30 per cent in the next decade

Over the next decade, we expect freight demand to grow by at least 30 per cent – the equivalent of 240 additional freight trains a day – and by as much as 140 per cent over the next 30 years.

To cater to this growth, we will continue to work with business and government in partnership with the rest of the rail industry to move more freight off Britain’s roads. This will substantially reduce carbon emissions.

Key facts

  • The UK rail freight sector contributes £299m in profits and wages to the UK economy.
  • On average a gallon of fuel moves a tonne of goods 246 miles by rail but 88 miles by road.
  • Each freight train takes about 60 HGVs off the roads.

Contact us

Contact our rail freight team

More information