Trebling rail freight by 2050 can cut emissions and help the UK economy

Marketa Horpeniakova, Published on 14/10/2022
Trebling rail freight by 2050 can cut emissions and help the UK economy
@railpartners.co.uk

Rail Partners proposes the necessary policy needed to achieve an ambitious target for freight growth that would transform the sector over the next three decades.


Rail Partners is the trade body representing independent passenger and freight operating companies. Based on its expertise, Rail Partners works to help improve the railway for both passengers and freight customers. Its members are international transport companies that provide passenger and freight services in the UK and internationally.

In response to the Great British Railways Transition Team’s freight growth target call for evidence, Rail Partners explains that it is necessary to set the necessary policy needed to achieve the ambitious target. They also explain why trebling rail freight will support the transition to net-zero carbon emissions within the coming decades.

Transport is the most carbon-intensive sector of the UK economy. Therefore, essential action is needed to reduce transport emissions now so the UK can meet its commitment to zero net carbon emissions by 2050. Trebling of rail freight would also have a significant economic benefit to British society, estimated at £7.5 billion a year.  It will also help to rebalance the economy as 90% of these economic benefits occur outside of London and the South-East.

“The demand for rail freight is already here today as customers increasingly look towards the rail as a sustainable, cost effective, and reliable way to get their goods to market,” said Andy Bagnall, Rail Partners Chief Executive and added: “Setting an ambitious growth target is key, supported by a wider policy framework to shift freight off the roads and onto the rails. Rail freight plays a critical role in the journey to net-zero. It removes seven million heavy goods vehicles from the roads each year, saving 1.4 million tonnes of carbon.”

The proposed Great British Railways (GBR) has overseen the targets and will give freight operators, customers, and third parties the confidence to move forward with significant investments in infrastructure to ensure freight growth is realized. The stretching of the broad target to treble rail freight by 2050 will be supported by short-term targets which are aligned with GBR's five-year funding cycles.

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