Scotland set for freight growth

Rail freight delivers billions of pounds of economic benefits across Britain – and it’s about to get bigger in Scotland.

We’re working with the Scottish freight industry to move more goods by rail in the next five years, benefitting business, consumers, motorists and the environment.

The ambitious plan is to increase freight activity by 7.5% net tonne miles – the weight of shipments multiplied by the distance travelled. The heavier the load, the more efficient the journey.

Achieving the target would provide a boon to Scotland – currently, the industry estimates freight generates about £200m of economic benefits. That’s 11 per cent of the overall figure for Britain, which was more than £1.7bn in 2016, according to a report.

How are we growing freight in Scotland?

Network Rail, freight operating companies (FOCs), freight users, industry bodies and hauliers aim to improve the average speed a freight train can travel at and increase reliability, so more trains reach their destinations on time.

We also aim to:

Encourage customer confidence – retain traffic and secure industry support for growth

Develop growth – increase the volume of rail moved through Scotland

Do things differently – implement cheaper and innovative solutions to help freight

Achieve simpler solutions – review ways of working to simply and support processes

Freight in numbers:

  • 76 per cent – the carbon emissions cut by each tonne of rail freight compared with road traffic.
  • 25 to 62 – the number of lorries taken off Scotland’s road thanks to freight, depending on the route and commodity
  • 73 per cent – the proportion of freight travelling through Scotland that ran on the West Coast Main Line between 2017 and 2018
  • Four million – the tonnes of product moved by rail in Scotland in the last year
  • 350,000 – bottles of wine transported by freight from France to Scotland for Christmas

Rail freight and the impact of investment

How freight delivers Christmas: in numbers

For more information on rail freight please visit