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Useful Facts and Figures

Aside from this introductory page of facts and figures, below, we have additional pages dedicated to the economic, safety and environmental arguments for rail freight.

Rail freight has a key role to play in the low carbon economy as rail produces 70% less carbon dioxide emissions than the equivalent road journey and a gallon of diesel will carry a tonne of freight 246 miles by rail as opposed to 88 miles by road.




Go to further graphs which illustrate the story of rail freight growth, improved performance and reliability, how it compares to the other modes showing that rail continued to grow during the recession and the HGVs it moves from our roads.

Rail freight is breaking out of its traditional markets into consumer business

The Latest Office of Rail Regulation figures issued for the year ending April 2015, show that rail freight traffic  was 22.21 billion  net tonne kilometres, the second highest figure in the past twelve years. The previous year (2013/14) saw the largest growth at 22.71 billion net tonne kilometres.

  • Consumer traffic has grown by 30% since 2006/7, grew 5% in the year 2014/15. This is the emerging new traffic for rail which is forecast to quadruple by 2034. These new markets are key for rail to replace the declining coal traffic.
  • Another important area of growth is construction traffic which increased by 17% in 2013/14 and 10% in 2014/15.

The industry has invested more than £2 billion private investment in locomotives, wagons, facilities and systems since 1995.

Lack of level playing field continues to make it difficult for sustainable freight modes to compete with road transport 

Latest UK research using Government Statistics shows that HGVs are paying less than a third of the costs they impose on society in terms of crashes, congestion, road damage and pollution as HGVs receive a subsidy of around £6.5 billion per annum. See full details

European figures

Average external costs for freight transport (excluding congestion) in 27 European countries 2008. This graph shows that road freight imposes far higher costs on society than either rail or water freight transport and demonstrates why it is important to achieve modal shift to rail and water where possible.

Average external costs for freight transport (excluding congestion) in 27 European countries 2008

Source CER & UIC Greening transport reduce external costs April 2012
EU-27 minus Cyprus and Malta which do not have a railway system plus Switzerland and Norway


For more statistics go to the three separate sections on economic, safety and environmental arguments for rail freight.

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