EXCLUSIVE: Armitt: no economic case for carrying parcels by rail

Rail freight’s downturn cannot be eased by carrying parcels traffic to meet the growing needs of delivery companies.

That’s the verdict of the man tasked with producing a report advising the Government on its future freight strategies.

Speaking exclusively to RAIL, National Infrastructure Commission Chairman Sir John Armitt CBE claimed the rail freight industry “is up against it” and that “everything is going against rail freight” at present.

The former Railtrack and Network Rail Chief Executive explained: “Freight traffic hasn’t been increasing in recent years. It has been decreasing thanks to the reduction in coal-powered fire stations, and any decreases we see in the car industry is going to have an impact. The reduction in heavy industry is also going to have an impact.

“I think it would be very surprising if rail carries parcels in the future. I was at Network Rail when EWS lost the contract for carrying Royal Mail traffic. Why did they lose it? Well, because the lorry was something like £45 per tonne and rail’s lowest offering was £75 per tonne. You come up against those hard realities and I think that is going to continue to be a challenge for rail freight.”

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  • David - 20/03/2019 23:58

    Even if there is no economic argument to do this, there is a very strong case on environmental grounds.

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  • Christopher Parker - 23/03/2019 18:24

    The loss of coal is irrelevant to the case for parcels.

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