Rail freight growth explored to reduce UK carbon emissions from freight transport

A call for evidence has been launched on how to increase the amount of freight transported in the UK by rail as part of efforts to decarbonize the movement of goods by reducing the number of lorries on the roads.

The Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT), which is a public body, is calling for a wide range of views on how to develop rail freight.

It is estimated that rail freight currently accounts for only 10% of land freight, although it generates around 76% less carbon emissions than heavy goods vehicles per tonne of goods transported.

GBRTT has called for a freight growth target to drive investment in the sector by setting a clear government ambition for growth. He said such a target would help the UK meet its legally binding greenhouse gas reduction targets.

If rail freight volumes tripled by 2050, as the modeling indicates, this may be necessary to meet net zero targets, then there would be around 14 million fewer road truck movements per year than today. today.

Railway Minister Wendy Morton said: “As freight plays an important role in removing emissions from our transport network, this new growth target will be key to creating a greener freight network as we continue strive to achieve net zero”.

Helen McAllister, Program Director at GBRTT, said: “Freight trains have a key role to play in a decarbonized logistics system, and the railway has the opportunity to do even more.

“Research suggests we may need to triple the amount of freight moved by rail to help meet net zero commitments. It would also reduce traffic congestion for drivers and boost the economy.

“This call for evidence will help us understand how much of current and future freight market demand could be met by rail, how we can make it even more efficient and sustainable, and how we can connect to new customers.”

Kate Jennings, Policy Director at Logistics UK, said: “As passenger numbers plummeted following the Covid-19 pandemic, the rail industry’s focus shifted to rail freight. But now, with passenger numbers returning, our sector will need support and investment to meet customer demand.

The call for evidence, which will be launched on July 5, 2022, will help GBRTT understand the realistic volume of goods that could be transferred to rail; where the potential for future rail freight traffic exists and where new rail terminals may be needed.

Last year the government unveiled the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail which sets out a blueprint for the future reform of the UK rail industry. The plan claims to propose the biggest change to the railways in 25 years, with the aim of bringing the network under single national management from a new public body, Great British Railways.

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