Official statistics show rail freight’s resilience

Rail freight grew by 2.1% in quarter 3 of 2020-12 according to official statistics issued on 4 March by Office of Rail and Road (ORR). This was driven by a growth in construction materials moved by train, up 6.1%, intermodal, up 2.3% and steel and metals which increased by 12.3%.  This was partly offset by reductions in movement of petroleum products which remained suppressed by ongoing travel restrictions, and coal reflecting the ongoing trend to renewable generation.

The period between October and December 2020 covered both the second UK lockdown and the run up to the end of the Brexit transition period.  These factors have created significant uncertainty for businesses and disruption throughout supply chains, and rail freight operators have needed to act flexibly and responsively to meet the changing needs of their customers.

Maggie Simpson OBE, RFG Director-General, said: “Delivery growth during one of the most economically challenging periods is a real measure of rail freight’s success.  Customers are committed to increasing their sustainable transport and consigning more by rail, and this is reflected in these results.”

ORR data is available here.