Friday, May 29, 2020

Dismal Figures Show Britain's Rail Freight in Decline Despite Government Promises

If Goods Are Supposed to Shift from Road Transport There is Little Sign Of It
Shipping News Feature

UK – As we pointed out just yesterday there are those who would say the government is not taking its promises to shift more freight traffic from road to rail as seriously as it might. The just published data from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) certainly show a worrying downward trend as the statistics indicate the lowest totals carried since 1996-97.

Responding to the latest rail freight usage statistics that show a worrying downward trend and the lowest total of rail freight moved for 23 years, and lowest total of freight lifted for 35 years, rail union RMT today called on the Government to put measures in place to ensure the rail freight sector had a bright future. RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“These latest rail freight statistics are worrying to say the least and it’s vital that the rail freight industry is not allowed to wither on the vine as it has proven to play a vital role in our response to the Covid-19 crisis, moving vital medical supplies and food to keep our country moving.

"The Government must ensure we get rail freight back on the rails and that this vital sector is fully supported as part of an integrated transport strategy that will become even more vital as part of the country’s post Covid revival.”

The total volume of rail freight moved dropped to 16.6 billion net tonne kilometres in the financial year 2019-20, its lowest total in 23 years. This is a 5% decrease from the total in 2018-19. The total amount of freight lifted fell to 68.1 million tonnes, which is a 10% decrease from 2018-19 and is now the lowest total since 1984-85.

The Freight Delivery Metric (FDM) recorded its lowest quarterly percentage (91.1%), down 4.0 percentage points from 2018-19 Q4. The quarterly FDM moving annual average (MAA) was 93.4%.These Q4 freight statistics have been affected by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, although the impact is small given the number of days affected up to the end of March 2020. The ORR expects to see a more noticeable impact in the next statistical release, 2020-21 Q1 (April to June 2020) due out in September.

The full statistical report can be downloaded HERE.