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Rail Partners responds to government rail freight growth target announcement

20 December 2023

Commenting on the announcement of a rail freight growth target of 75% by 2050, Rail Partners chief executive, Andy Bagnall said:

‘Today’s announcement of a growth target for rail freight is a major step forward – the target will focus minds on the need to move goods in a more environmentally friendly way and give the sector more clarity to encourage investment.

 ‘While the 75% level of the growth target is a good start, we will need to go further to really shift the dial of moving freight from road to rail – if rail freight simply maintained its market share, that would mean 60% growth by 2050. So, the sector will now continue to work with government to put in place the policies needed to achieve, and exceed, the target – essential if the UK is to decarbonise logistics supply chains and meet its net zero goals.’

Notes to editors
  • Rail Partners’ report Freight expectations: How rail freight can support Britain’s economy and environment shows that with a supporting framework in place a trebling of freight is achievable.
  • The research also shows that rail freight has a considerable environmental advantage over road freight today. Analysis shows that rail freight produces 76% less CO2 than the equivalent transported by road.  A single freight train now removes up to 129 heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) off the road at a time, which helps to tackle congestion on roads up and down the country, while also reducing carbon emissions.
  • While it’s not easy to make international comparisons because they have different constraints, markets, and structures - In 2020 the French government set a target in law to double rail freight’s modal share by 2030 from 9% to 18% and has plans to increase this share to 25% by 2050. Germany has a target to increase rail freight’s modal share from 19% to 25% by 2030 (from earlier this decade). Spain has a target to grow rail freight’s modal share from 4% to 18%.
  • Rail Partners is calling for the budget of the Mode Shift Revenue Support (MSRS) scheme, which supports modal shift from road to rail on flows where rail would not otherwise be able to compete on cost within a highly price sensitive customer base, to be doubled to £40m when the scheme is renewed in 2025.
About Rail Partners

Rail Partners exists to make the railway better by harnessing the expertise and creativity of private sector operators for the benefit of those who use the railway, passengers and freight customers, and those who pay for it, including taxpayers.  

Rail Partners provides advocacy and policy solutions for its private sector passenger owning group and freight company members. Rail Partners additionally provides technical services to train operating companies in both the public and private sectors. 

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