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Yorkshire and Humber Region

Is comprised of Yorkshire and North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire


Has a Regional Spatial Strategy, which was converted from RPG, which lasts until the end of 2006

The Region is currently working on the draft Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) and Draft Regional Transport Strategy (RTS), which will incorporate the Freight Strategy, and will be consulted on later this year and then go to the Government Office. The second stage incorporates an Examination in Public likely in early 2006 with the final document going to the Secretary of State late in 2006.

Draft RSS
7.50 Freight Transport
The movement of goods is of great significance to the economy of Yorkshire and the Humber given the importance of the Humber ports, the substantial distribution sector and the continuing importance of manufacturing and other industries. The maintenance of efficient freight and distribution links to the rest of the country and overseas will be essential if the region is to attract greater inward investment. In addition, efficient access for goods and services is a key factor in supporting the vitality of urban areas, although this must be reconciled with the need to make the region’s towns and cities pleasant places to live and work and attractive to visitors.

7.51 The Government’s objectives and proposals for freight are set out in Sustainable Distribution: A Strategy (March 1999). It makes clear that land-use planning can have a significant impact on distribution, through policies and decisions on patterns of development and transport infrastructure. The aim of RSS in relation to freight transport should be to achieve an integrated and sustainable system of distribution which makes the most efficient use of all modes through having regard to:-

  • Improving the efficiency of distribution to the benefit of the regional economy.
  • Making better use of transport infrastructure
  • Minimising the impact of freight distribution on the environment
  • Maximising the use of rail and water, both inland and coastal in preference to road and air.

7.52 Local authorities have a crucial role in the implementation of the strategy set out in Sustainable Distribution, and should seek to develop integrated freight distribution plans, promoting the efficient and effective use of all modes of transport, while recognising that road will continue to be the dominant mode of freight distribution for the foreseeable future. The strategy highlights the range of issues that need to be addressed. These range from the promotion of rail and water borne freight to detailed consideration of issues such as lorry, air quality, climate change, noise and disturbance of local communities.

7.56 Greater use can be made of existing road/rail intermodal facilities, and the extensive rail network can be re-linked to major freight movement origins and destination to replace transport by road.

7.57 Consideration should be given to the potential use of available grants to help businesses switch freight transport from road to rail or water by assisting with the extra costs.

7.59 There is a particular bottleneck on the rail network serving the South Humber Bank urgently requiring a package of improvements to increase capacity by raising track speeds, improving junctions and providing an additional route for freight using the Wrawby-Gainsborough line.

Policy T4

Freight Transport

In preparing development plans and local transport plans opportunities should be sought to deliver an integrated freight distribution system which makes the most efficient and effective use of road, rail and water (inland and coastal). In particular policies should be developed which:-

  1. Seek to maximise the use of rail or water fro freight movements from new developments and significant changes of use, as well as recognising the contribution these modes can make to the transportation of bulk materials e.g. waste.
  2. Seek to locate developments which generate high levels of freight and commercial traffic closest to intermodal freight facilities, rail freight facilities, ports and wharves or roads designed and managed as traffic distributors.
  3. Where appropriate, identify and encourage the protection of rail freight connections and the development of new rail sidings in association with new freight oriented developments and in relation to quarrying and forestry sites.
  4. Identify land protect existing and proposed sites for intermodal interchanges from road/rail, road/water, and road/rail/water. In South and West Yorkshire, in particular, seek improvements to road/waterway transfer facilities.
  5. Identify and protect existing and proposed sites for rail freight facilities and operational development and encourage and protect rail freight connections to major industrial sites.
  6. Identify and protect appropriate facilities for the loading and unloading of water-borne freight, having regard to issues such as landside transport links and potential conflicts of use and disturbance.
  7. Where appropriate, encourage the implementation of gauge improvements on key rail freight routes.
  8. Encourage the development of Freight Quality Partnerships between local authorities, the freight industry, business communities, residents and environmental groups to enable a more efficient and sustainable approach to deliveries, particularly in urban areas.

Yorkshire Humber rail freight section of Freight Strategy Rail
SWOT analysis


  • Making better use of rail expertise at Doncaster and York
  • for rail operations, wagon production and infrastructure maintenance.
  • Road congestion may work in favour of rail freight services.
  • New Working Time Directives may affect road and rail but rail to a lesser extent.
  • Continued competition between and investment by Freight Train Operators can improve reliability and service.
  • Some supply chain directors are starting to see the benefits of using a more environmentally friendly mode of transport.


  • Funding future for network improvements and grant support for capital infrastructure is still at best uncertain.
  • Lack of funding commitment undermining new interest from industry in rail.
  • Planning permission for distribution locations not fully taking long term rail potential into account.
  • The rail freight service offer is seen by some potential customers, as not being sufficiently customer focused.
  • Road transport and short sea shipping feeder services provide intense competition for longer distance container flows.


  • More than a third of all UK rail freight (28 million tonnes), already travels to, from or through the region.
  • EWS, the Country’s dominant rail freight operator at Doncaster.
  • Modern locomotives and rolling stock are available.
  • Good provision of intermodal and dedicated rail terminals with new services being introduced.
  • Good rail infrastructure, particularly with the East Coast Mainline.
  • New rail business is being won by all three of the existing freight operators in the region.


  • Capacity constraints on parts of the network.
  • Lack of 24 hour access to all of the network e.g. Hull- Selby.
  • Gauge constraints, particularly trans pennine.
  • Planning process for new developments often fails to fully take the rail option into account.
  • Many distribution sites next to the rail network do not make provision for possible rail access in the future.
  • The current availability and choice of rail terminals is not sufficiently understood within the region.
  • National funding for network freight improvements and capital assistance for operators is scarce.

6.1. Background

Traditional bulk flows of industrial commodities remain the dominant rail freight movement in Yorkshire and the Humber, although an increasing number of containers are being moved by rail.

Up to 33% of rail freight lifted within the UK is actually lifted within the region. A significant proportion of rail freight lifted in Yorkshire and Humber is generated from the import of goods (primarily coal and other bulk products) through the Ports of Grimsby and Immingham. Such movements travel on the South Humber line both to destinations within and outside the region.

At Immingham, there is direct rail access from the port. At Grimsby, there are direct quayside rail connections. At Goole, full trainloads of cargo can be brought directly into the port. A new rail terminal north of West Dock uses specialized rolling stock in conjunction with EWS to handle steel, unitised cargo and containers. At Hull, there are rail links into parts of Hull Dock.

There are five inter-modal freight terminals in Yorkshire and Humber, in addition to the inter-modal facilities at the region’s ports. Three rail freight operators operate in the region: EWS Railways; Freightliner; and GB Railfreight.

Although no other rail freight companies are planning to operate within the region in the near future, the three that currently do are operating efficiently and have invested heavily in new locomotives and rolling stock, which have improved service reliability.

There is some concern from freight operators relating to the Government’s rail review and the SRA Consultation on in relation to the potential transfer of management to regional or local bodies and the possible implications for reduced standards on routes. These concerns are somewhat comparable to those of road freight operators in relation to the process of detrunking.

One of the routes that might be under consideration as a “community rail line” is Ulceby-Barton on Humber which used to serve New Holland Bulk Terminal, where various commodities are handled including agricultural produce. The line could have potential for freight use in the future, particularly if further development takes place on the south bank of the Humber between New Holland and Killingholme. The point here is to ensure that even if local lines do go into local management, the interests of rail freight users should not be jeopardised.

Freight Facilities Grants (FFG), have been the main capital support to the rail freight sector for over two decades. Recent successful applicants from the region include the Potter Group, for their rail connected distribution centre at Selby and DFDS, for facilities at Immingham. The suspension of FFG by the SRA makes it more difficult for private operators to make investment plans. The latest situation is that the SRA have written to a number of interested parties hoping for a resumption of the FFG advising them that there will be no grants until the subject is reviewed as part of the Treasury Spending Review.

Nationally, since rail privatisation, there has been a 20% increase in the number of rail services on the network. There are several key places in Yorkshire and Humber where the rail network is operating either close to or actually at capacity. Some of the most constrained parts of the network include:

  • ECML between Doncaster and Leeds;
  • Northern Trans Pennine route between Manchester and York via Leeds;
  • Southern Trans Pennine route between Sheffield and Manchester at Dore; Immingham to Scunthorpe.

Of these key congested areas, the route between Immingham and Doncaster via Barnetby and Scunthorpe is of primary concern, since failure to upgrade this section of network will hinder the growth of the South Humber ports. On the north side of the Humber, the line between Doncaster, Selby and Hull is also constrained despite supporting significantly less traffic than the southern Humber line. There are two separate programmes of work to improve the capacity of the South Humber line that already handles almost 25% of the total rail freight tonnage in the UK. Planned minor infrastructure upgrades at Wrawby Junction where the Scunthorpe and Gainsborough Lines diverge will remove line speed restrictions on the South Humber line. Secondly improvements on the Brigg line would help the current situation by allowing an additional 8 trains a day each way. Although the improvements will enhance the overall line capacity sufficiently to cope with the immediate anticipated growth in volume there are several new developments planned at Immingham that may require a considerably higher number of additional trains a day. This issue needs further investigation to ensure that rail line capacity is not a limiting factor for either a growth in rail freight or growth in the Humber ports.

6.2. Capacity and Gauge Enhancement Policy

Identify bottlenecks and capacity constraints likely to affect future growth of rail freight and lobby for targeted improvement .

Some of the priorities for infrastructure improvements include loading gauge improvements to allow 9’ 6” containers to be carried on standard wagons between the major container ports and inland freight terminals. The route capability for high cube boxes to travel by rail from the Humber to the north west must be a high priority for the region. There is a need to promote gauge improvements on strategic freight routes for example the south Humber mainline and a Trans-Pennine route so that the Humber ports could use rail as an option for the movement of high cube containers. These are now representing over 20% of the import market and there is currently no route capable of carrying this height container across the Pennines on the industry standard flat wagons. If the Humber is going to see a 6% growth in container traffic then the need for train services able to handle this type of traffic is important otherwise the whole growth in tonnage will have to go by road. Depending on the mix of traffic using a wagon solution to the high cube box problem is uneconomic because special well wagons don’t carry enough, cost more to buy and maintain and earn less.

There are bottlenecks on the national network which will eventually impede growth, but the most serious bottlenecks are not physically in the Yorkshire and Humberside region, although they may affect traffic to/from the region. There is a need to assess capacity issues from a freight point of view and suggest solutions.

The Hull line from Selby and Doncaster, on the north side of the Humber is also severely constrained both physically and operationally partly because it is closed at night to any rail traffic. There is a need to get an appropriate balance of access for both maintenance and operation. Although little freight traffic currently comes out of Hull with several “freight paths” unused in the daytime this situation may not always remain the case especially with planned port expansion. There is potential for additional traffic possibly imported coal, chemicals, containers, train ferry wagons etc and the single track route around Hull to Saltend is slow and not ideal. Although it is recognised that Network Rail need to get access to the line for maintenance purposes and there is no point wasting valuable resources employing signalmen and operational staff if there is little or no demand for trains at night a review of 24 hour track access may be warranted in the future.

Freight operators and customers had suffered from the poor performance of the network. The large number of ‘temporary’ speed restrictions undermined the efficiency and productivity of freight operations, limiting the freight operators’ ability to invest and grow their businesses. These have been particularly noticeable on the South Humber mainline. An upgrade of this route is seen as being of special importance to the region.


In accordance with the regional transport priorities continue strong regional support for the campaign for a route capacity upgrade of the South Humber mainline to enable it to handle additional tonnage and a gauge enhancement of a Trans-Pennine route for high cube boxes.

6.3. Intermodal Terminals for the region


The region should support the development of further opportunities to enhance current or develop new rail freight terminals in the region where need can be demonstrated and commercial support is in place. The planning process should support terminal provision in the following priority orders: rail connected developments with committed business, sites with protected rail connections, non-rail connected sites.
d sites.
Rail freight makes an important contribution to government economic, strategic and environmental objectives. Rail freight is a sustainable transport mode and its further use should be encouraged and facilitated. One of the barriers to the use of rail freight is the perceived availability of access to the network. Many companies that do not have rail connections to their sites do not consider rail. In the future planning policy for developments should consider whether there are opportunities for rail.

Clearly new developments are very much influenced by planning policies and constraints. It is sensible to have policies which ensure that land near main lines is used for purposes which can be served by rail and that any future industrial or commercial developments likely to produce a significant freight transport demand should be located at sites which are capable of offering multimodal transport solutions to the users.

According to the recently published “SRA Freight Interchange Policy” guide there are enough large strategic multimodal type freight terminals in Yorkshire & Humber, but some expansion may be needed in Leeds. This SRA assessment was based on the fact that its strategies address the Government 10 year planned target. The more traditional Commodities tend to develop as single occupier facilities in response to specific customer demand. There are probably enough terminals at which to transfer containers but there is scope for new “added value” terminals that offer a range of other services including warehousing, picking and deliveries. If the region really wants to expand rail freight it needs to support the growth of terminals where this is demand led and appropriate, for example in new distribution parks.

New Freight Services

The first freight train carrying industrial sand on a contract that will see two to three trains a week running to the new Guardian UK glass factory arrived at Goole Business Park on 17 February 2004. The former Renault siding has been refurbished, reinstated and extended by Network Rail on behalf of the regeneration body Yorkshire Forward. The single line track is nearly 2km long, with the first 500 metres owned and operated by Network Rail as a private siding connection from the Wakefield to Goole line. The remainder is a private siding owned by Yorkshire Forward, which funded the project. EWS has been awarded a five year contract from WBB Minerals to move 130,000 tonnes a year of sand from Leziate Quarry near King’s Lynn to the site.


Respond positively to new planning developments in considering the potential for multi modal opportunities.

6.4. Securing Adequate Funding



The region should continue to actively seek to source funding in order to deliver on the priority improvements; rail gauge and capacity in the region. This may take the form of gathering evidence of need, lobbying for national and European support and assisting with applications for private terminal developments.

There have been encouraging signs of new optimism in rail freight’s ability to deliver good customer service in the recent past, however there is evidence that the confidence of investors in developing rail solutions or considering rail has been dented as a result of the Governments ongoing funding difficulties for rail and doubts over its commitment to rail freight. This has been manifested particularly by the suspension of Freight Facilities Grants and the postponement of planned rail projects during 2003/4 and that the freight innovation scheme did not continue as planned. To make the investments necessary to increase the role of rail freight in supply chains, industry needs to be reassured of ongoing Government commitment and confidence in its willingness to deliver over a period that enables them to plan against.

Grant Support Delivers

Freight Facilities Grant, introduced 25 years ago, has been the main capital support to rail freight by the government through the SRA. One of the successful applicants in 2002 in the Yorkshire and Humber region was the Potter Group at their inland multimodal terminal at Selby which received £1.6 million from the SRA securing private funding of £1 million saving 200,000 annual lorry journeys.

Operators do not wish to run a business entirely dependent on grants, but think that properly-thought-through arrangements which guarantee the delivery of measurable environmental benefits are value for the taxpayer’s money. The company neutral revenue support scheme sets out to achieve this.


Campaign for the reinstatement of the Freight Facilities Grant and assist prospective users obtain funding through alternative routes such as the European Union.
Campaign for the reinstatement of the

6.5. Supporting Freight Train Operating Companies

Rail freight has been one of the successes of rail privatisation. It is becoming more efficient, more competitive, improving productivity, improving performance and attracting considerable private sector investment and growing by 50%. Continued growth, investment and private sector involvement in rail freight depends on the continuation of independent economic regulation and the existence of a credible long term strategy for the railway to provide the requisite degree of assurance about the extent and functionality of the network and the capacity available for freight.

The private rail freight companies are now offering a significantly improved package of efficient services with an enhanced customer focused service in a spirit of competition. This is important in attracting new potential customers. There are several examples of “good practice” in the industry.

Support for the operation of train operating companies should be delivered through the wider support of rail freight
policies in this strategy.


Continued support to be given to an improvement in the network of diversionary routes for freight trains in the event of unexpected disruption and planned maintenance

Many freight issues have a national context and it is essential that regional authorities understand this context; it is not in the least unusual for the solution to one region’s problem or opportunity to be dependent on or found in another region. The rail review about the future of the industry is likely to report soon and it may involve a change in responsibilities including the role of Network Rail and the SRA. One such national subject is the provision of a good rail infrastructure. In connection with this it is important to establish a network of diversionary rail lines not only across the region but also across the country to provide alternatives to freight customers both for periods of planned maintenance and times of unplanned incidents for example landslides, train breakdowns, blocked lines etc. The ability to reroute trains to ensure they reach their destination is fundamental to providing a good and reliable customer service. In addition to ensuring there is a suitable network of diversionary routes for freight it is worth stating that any permanent downgrading of parts of the rail network to lightweight local “passenger trains only” as a measure to reduce maintenance costs may be counterproductive to the possible reinstatement of freight services in the future. The SRA Consultation on Community Rail Developments where the decision making and management of certain rural routes may be given to local or regional communities is a potential issue for freight operators. However it is anticipated that most communities would be eager to encourage rail freight developments to bring extra revenue even if local management goes ahead. But the main issue is that track maintenance should be kept up to an adequate level for freight.


The region should continue to campaign nationally for a functional network of diversionary routes for freight trains.

6.7. Rail Disruption and Safet Relating to Other Modes


Understand the extend and cost of the problem of bridge strikes and accident related level crossing disruption in the region, identify the worst locations and implement an action plan to improve safety and reduce road and rail disruption.

There are over 40,000 bridges and tunnels in Britain’s rail network, which Network Rail own and maintain. Many of the bridges are over 100 years old and have significant historical and architectural value. They need to be closely monitored and maintained to ensure safety. In Yorkshire and Humber for the period April 2003 to the end of March 2004 the number of minutes lost in delay to freight trains alone following a goods vehicle strike amounted to over 13,000 operating minutes. If a value of £10/Minute is put on a delayed freight train this would have amounted to over £130,000 in the year. (source; Network Rail). Delays to freight trains are only a small part of total costs attributable to a bridge strike accident. These delays are of course avoidable and the incidents are unrelated to rail but have a major effect on the rail industry. Another often unseen consequence of delays caused by bridge strikes is the cost of compensation in the rail industry. The industry’s compensation regime means that irrespective of who was to blame, if trains are delayed as a result of a bridge strike Network Rail is required to compensate operators for the delays they experience. Other than the heavy administrative burden on the industry to calculate this, the costs of which naturally end up having to be absorbed by either taxpayer or customers at some point, the uncapped nature of this system means it can get very expensive. Local Authorities do have a major role to help with this matter.

Whilst there is generally good physical separation between different modes, where road, rail and water courses cross conflict and damage can occur. There is a serious problem in the region of rail bridges being struck by road vehicles and to a lesser extent water traffic. Even when damage is minor this can cause much delay to both passenger and rail freight users as trains are unable to cross the affected bridge until it has been inspected and certified as being safe. Other consequences include delays to road users, the cost of traffic diversion and of course the actual costs of vehicle repair and bridge reconstruction. Road transport vehicles, both buses and lorries, are required by law to carry signs in the cab warning of the height of their vehicle. In certain cases the load height is different every time for example on open top tippers, so the sign has to be a variable one to be changed by the driver . There have been five instances of bridge strikes by boats and seven by buses but the highest incidence is of lorries with 48 incidents, representing over 60% of the total. There appears to be a type of lorry more prone to bridge strike and these appear to be in the area of variable height loads, for example, scrap metal, container (different height boxes), refuse and skip lorries.

Authorities should ensure that they are playing an active role in reducing this problem, this may take the form of active lorry routeing away from vulnerable bridges where possible, highly visible warning signs and other innovative approaches such as targeting industry sectors found to be most likely to cause bridge bashing incidents with information and represent over 40% of the problem areas and hence addressing these would make a major contribution to reducing the problem. The design of a “bridge bashing” leaflet targeted at skip, waste and container operators would also make a major contribution to awareness of the problem.

Level crossings also cause considerable safety and transport disruption problems. Around 40% of rail fatalities for 2001/02 resulted from unsafe conduct by members of the public. Although Network Rail own, operate and maintain over 9,000 level crossings across the national network of which 865 of them are manned, there is a need for Local Authorities and the Highways Agency to be aware of the importance of joint action to address the problem. Although fatalities have been mentioned even less serious incidents have an impact and can result in temporary road and rail line closures causing delay and inconvenience to both passenger and freight traffic.


Highlight the worst locations of bridge strikes and level crossing incidents in the region and suggest a programme of actions to minimize the future incidents.

TOP Locations Incidents

Leeman Road 6
Goole Bridge 4
Henconner Lane, Bramley 4
Aberford Road, Woodlesford 3
Denby Dale Road, Wakefield 3
Doncaster Road, Ackworth 3
Mill Lane, Bradford 3
Ousegate Bridge, Selby 3
Ferrybridge 3



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