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Rail freight sector warns of slump in container traffic

Rail freight operators are warning that container trains from the UK’s main ports will suffer a substantial drop in business during May and June.

The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on freight lags weeks behind passenger services. Freightliner is already reporting intermodal volumes at around half the normal level, while GB Railfreight Managing Director John Smith told RAIL: “Exports are drifting away and imports are slowing. Essential materials are still moving. But the shops are closed.”

With the journey by sea from the Far East taking six to eight weeks, the full impact is only now being felt in the sector.

“There are fewer ships coming during May and June,” said Smith. “When COVID hit China, it stopped manufacturing. That meant a drop at UK ports in March. But we were still exporting then.

“In recent weeks no one has been placing orders with China. And in the UK, factories have not been making anything to export.”

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 905, published on May 20, and available digitally from May 16.

  • For the FULL story regarding the railway's ongoing response to the COVID-19 situation, read RAIL 905, published on May 20, and available digitally from May 16.



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