A Greener UK Economic Recovery Requires Shifting Freight from Road to Rail Says RDG

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) is calling on the UK government to introduce policies that will help shift freight from road to rail in order to ensure a greener economic recovery.

In its report ‘Rail Freight: Building a stronger, greener future for Britain’, the RDG outlines a series of policies the UK government should support if it wants to eliminate congested roads and cities, support the levelling up agenda and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Freight depot
Freight depot

According to RDG research, rail freight delivers 2.45bn GBP (2.86bn euros | 3.37bn USD) in economic and social benefits to the UK every year. In addition, each tonne of freight transported by rail produces 76 percent less carbon emissions compared to road transportation with one freight train replacing the equivalent of up to 110 lorries. Altogether, rail freight removes the need for 7m lorry journeys a year.

The RDG is calling on the government to make better use of capacity on the network by allowing more freight to run on rail, upgrade Britain’s infrastructure to make it fit for the digital age, and work with the rail industry to incentivise businesses to switch their goods from road to rail.

It’s also requesting that the government establish an efficient logistics sector which has hubs and terminals in the right places, with strong rail connectivity to help avoid a road-led recovery, and commit to investing in the infrastructure required to decarbonise rail freight – including a long-term rolling programme of railway electrification.

Finally, it’s asking that the future industry structure supports rail freight growth and unlocks continued third-party investment that will allow rail freight operators to deliver greater long-term economic and environmental benefits.

Robert Nisbet, Director of Nations and Regions for the Rail Delivery Group, said:

“Throughout the pandemic the railway has played a vital role in transporting goods and keeping supermarket shelves stocked. As we enter the recovery phase, our roads and cities are once again becoming congested. If government wants to realise its commitment of net zero in 2050 and grow the economy, it has to put in place the policies to incentivise the shift from roads to railways for both goods and people.”

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