Freight tonnage slumps to lowest point since 1996/97

BRITISH rail freight operators recorded the lowest total volume of freight lifted since 1996/97 for the period between July and September 2018.

Figures compiled by the Office of Rail and Road show that although the amount of freight moved increased by 2% to 4.4billion tonne-kilometres over the same period in 2017, the actual volumes continue to decrease.

The decline of heavy industry is still affecting railfreight operators. Hardest hit is DB Cargo, its market share having fallen to around 38% because of competition. Here, DB Cargo’s No. 66121 passes Langdon Bridge, Newton Abbot, on January 4 with the 10.00 Burngullow-Exeter Riverside – one of two loaded sand trains that are combined at Exeter and destined for Bow, east London. STEWART ARMSTRONG

Coal and petrochemicals traffic were the hardest hit, declining by 5% and 3% respectively to 0.26bn tonne-km each.

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However, the metals sector bucked a long-term trend to increase by 4% to 0.35bn tonne-km. ‘Other’ freight (waste, biomass and mail) was up by 7% during the second quarter, while construction continued its rise, increasing by 3% to 1.16bn tonne-km.

Read more in the February 2019 issue of The RM – on sale now!

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About the Author

Sam Hewitt