The Scottish freight community has today launched a joint strategy to grow the amount of freight on the rails, as part of plans to meet a target of 7.5 percent growth set by the Scottish Government last year.

Network Rail, Freight Operating Companies, freight users, industry bodies and hauliers came together to build the ambitious plan, which sets out what is required to support rail freight growth as well as looking at improving the average speed a freight train can travel at and increasing reliability, meaning that more trains reach their destination on time.

The plan sets out four actions for growth, aligned to workstreams, covering four areas that the rail freight industry believes we collectively need to improve upon:

  • Encouraging Customer Confidence
  • Developing Growth
  • Doing Things Differently
  • Achieving Simpler Solutions

Moving goods by rail boosts productivity and brings in around £200m[1] in benefits to Scotland’s economy. There are over 600 freight trains running on Great Britain’s network every single day, with around 50 of these trains running in Scotland delivering goods 24 hours of the day. Over 4 million tonnes of product was transported by rail in the last 12 months.

Rail freight also boasts significant environmental benefits and as part of this plan the rail freight industry commits to work in partnership to transfer at least 1,700 lorry movements a year from Scotland’s road network to rail over the next five years. Each tonne of freight transported by rail reduces carbon emissions by 76 percent compared to road and each freight train removes between 25 and 62 HGVs from Scottish roads.

Alex Hynes, ScotRail Alliance managing director, said: “We are working closely with our rail freight operators to grow freight traffic on Scotland’s railway over the next five years.

“There are individual businesses and whole industry sectors which could benefit hugely from making rail freight part of their logistics mix and we will be working hard to encourage them onto our network.

“We are also committed to making rail freight as fast and reliable as it can be and are investing in our infrastructure to make switching from road to rail as easy as possible for customers.” 

Paul McMahon, managing director of Freight and National Passenger Operators at Network Rail, said: “Our freight customers are a vital part of Scotland’s railways and the Scottish economy. Scottish growth also needs to be considered as part of our  GB-wide network as this will make sure that the required capacity and capability exists both north and south of the border.

“Network Rail champions and supports freight. We, and the rail freight industry, welcome the growth target and we will continue to work together in delivering the uplift.”

Ken Russell, managing director Russell Group, said:  “Russell Group has been pioneering the use of rail freight for over 40 years, promoting its numerous economic and environmental benefits. The company continues to invest in rail freight, working in partnership with the industry to support growth and boost productivity. It is particularly pleasing to see Transport Scotland placing a requirement on Network Rail to grow rail freight over the next control period and that Network Rail has grasped this with industry mapping out a growth programme.” 

Andrew Malcolm, chief executive officer WH Malcolm, said: “WH Malcolm have been delivering intermodal rail to the logistics sector since 2001. We are pleased to see this commitment to rail freight from Transport Scotland, Network Rail and the wider industry. Only by working together, across government, industry and transport modes will we achieve the greatest benefits.”

Chris Swan, head of rail at Tarmac, said: “As one of the UK’s largest private sector users of rail freight it’s great to see its value as an economic enabler recognised by this industry-led growth plan for Scotland. We believe that building capacity in the rail network is vital to help the effective delivery of infrastructure ambitions and look forward to working together to achieve the positive growth targets in place.”

Debbie Francis, managing director of Direct Rail Services, said: “DRS fully support Network Rail’s industry growth plan in Scotland. Being one of the main intermodal freight operators north of the border it is key that Network Rail and industry partners understand the needs of freight customers. Freight services offered in Scotland need to meet delivery requirements and we hope that by working in partnership we can all ensure freight and its customers has a voice equal to train operating companies.”

For further information please visit: www.networkrail.co.uk/freight-growth