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Rail Partners response to ORR statistics on rail freight usage and performance for Q3

Responding to the ORR’s latest statistics on rail freight usage and performance, Andy Bagnall, chief executive of Rail Partners, said:

‘The autumn period is usually the busiest time of year for freight operators as businesses prepare for Christmas and with construction activity in full flow, but these latest ORR figures underline how challenging current market conditions are for the rail freight sector.

‘It is encouraging that the UK government has set a target to grow rail freight by no less than 75% by 2050, but to deliver that target, and secure the well-established economic and environmental benefits of rail freight, it is essential to create the right conditions for growth. Crucially, we must address the widening gap between the cost of moving goods by rail and by road if we want to make rail the mode of choice for prospective freight customers.

Notes to editors

  • According to the latest ORR data on rail freight usage and performance for October to December 2023, freight moved, measured in net tonne kilometres, was 3.85bn ntkm – a 4% increase on the same period last year, during which freight services were affected by continued industrial action within Network Rail. Construction volumes are up by 11% on last year, though this is largely driven by the strong performance of HS2 traffic and wider construction activity has been weaker.
  • During this period, the proportion of freight trains arriving within 15 minutes, as measured by the Freight Delivery Metric, was 87.8%. This is the second worst level of freight performance between October and December since the time series began in 2013. The full data set is available here:
  • Rail Partners’ report, ‘Freight Britain: An engine for green growth’ offers a route map to delivering on the government’s 75% rail freight growth target and securing important economic and environmental benefits for a nation of rail freight customers. Its five policy recommendations include a for government to address the widening cost gap between rail and road freight, to help businesses choose rail over more polluting transport modes.  You can access it here:
  • Rail freight contributes £2.45bn in benefits to the UK economy. You will find more information on the value of rail freight to Britain in Freight Expectations: How rail freight can support Britain's economy and environment

About Rail Partners

Rail Partners exists to make the railway better by harnessing the expertise and creativity of private sector operators for the benefit of those who use the railway, passengers and freight customers, and those who pay for it, including taxpayers.