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Useful Facts and Figures - Economic Arguments for Rail Freight

  • Congestion costs UK £30 billion a year according to Inrix’s latest figures with the UK ranked the fourth most congested developed country and third most congested in Europe.
  • Rail freight could and should be part of the solution; shippers and construction firms are crying out for more rail freight services which are constrained by the lack of slots on the rail network.  
  • High cost benefit ratios of rail freight schemes
    The strong benefit-cost ratios for freight enhancements, typically in the range of 4:1 to 8:1, highlighted in the latest Network Rail Route Strategic Plan, should be factored into investment planning. Targeted rail freight upgrades work; the gauge upgrades out of Southampton Port increased rail’s market share from 29 to 36 per cent within a year and had a benefit-cost ratio of five to one.
  • The largest freight trains in the UK can remove up to 160 HGV journeys from our roads with an average one removing 80 HGVs.
    - Value of Freight July 2013 Network Rail
  • One train can carry enough materials to build 30 houses
    Mineral Products Association November 2016
  • DfT estimate the cost of congestion being £0.99 per lorry miles on the most congested roads.
  • Productivity gains of rail freight
    Since 2003 the number of freight trains on the network has fallen by 46%, yet the amount of freight moved on each train has increased by over 75%.  Source Freight Delivery Metric 2017
  • Delays on the rail network
    Freight trains were only responsible for 2.5 per cent of delays while representing 9 per cent of traffic. Source Freight and passenger performance ORR
  • Government figures show that nationally 30 per cent of lorries were driving around
    completely empty in both 2016 and 2017; the number of empty lorries has increased in the recent yearsfrom  28.8 % in 2014 28.6% in 2015.  Source DfTRFS0125SourceDfT empty running figures & Centre for Sustainable Road Freight (CSRF) report.
  • Government figures show that only 36% of lorries were full by volume in 2017 – Source DfT spreadsheet.
  • Analysis of the latest Government statistics show that HGVs are paying less than a third of the costs they impose on society.
  • Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) cost the UK economy £6bn each year in increased road crashes, dirty air, pot holes, congestion and other impacts. HGVs are  nearlyfive times more likely than cars to be involved in fatal accidents on local roads.
  • These conclusions are in line with two other separate reports.  MDS Transmodal study in 2007 found a very similar amount of underpayment: £6billion. Transport & Environment research 2  issued in April 2016 found that HGVs were only paying 30%of their external costs.
  • Lorries do cause far more damage to foundations and structures of roads than cars because the damaging power rises exponentially as weight increases. This is called the Generalized Fourth Power Law. The standard six-axle44 tonne 16.5 metre truck is 100,000 times more damaging to road surfaces than a Ford Focus. Therefore some of the heaviest road repair costs are therefore almost exclusively attributable to the heaviest vehicles. Our latest research shows that HGVs are currently only paying 11%  of their road damage costs. Link to same report as above.

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