Construction traffic boom keeps UK railfreight stable

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A FIVE per cent increase in construction traffic took the sector to its highest quarterly volume in the first three months of 2019/20, according to new figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). 

The movement of construction materials, fuelled by high levels of property development in London and the south-east of England, reached 1.21billion tonne-kilometres, although domestic intermodal traffic remains the biggest sector at 1.71bn tonne/km (up by 1% from 2018/19). 

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Overall, UK freight traffic was relatively stable for Q1 2019/20 at 4.27bn tonne/km, decreasing by 1% over the previous year as coal traffic continues to decline sharply. 

Carrying PD Ports blue livery, DB Cargo No. 66109 Teesport Express passes Trowell, near Nottingham, with the 4F02 Ashburys to Mountsorrel Sidings empty stone wagons on October 8. Construction traffic continues to perform strongly for UK freight operators, and reached a new high in the first quarter of 2019/20. STEVE DONALD

Once the undisputed king of freight traffic, coal dropped by 53% between Q1 2018/19 and the same period in 2019/20 to just 0.12bn tonne/km. 

Other traditional freight sectors serving heavy industry, metals and oil/petroleum, saw falls of 7% and 3%, respectively. 

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International traffic grew by 20% over the previous year because of increased cross-channel freight traffic. Construction and domestic intermodal now accounts for slightly more than two-thirds of UK rail freight.

Read more News and Features in the November 2019 issue of The Railway Magazine –on sale now!

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About the Author

Nigel Devereux

Let off some steam...