“As we prepare to develop new trading relationships outside the European Union, we can build on the £30 billion worth of goods carried by rail freight.”
The economic power of the UK rail freight industry has again been revealed after new data showed it generated more than £1.7 billion of economic benefits to the economy in 2016. Published by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), the organisation that represents Britain’s rail industry, and informed by KPMG data, the positive news was in fact a rise on figure from two years earlier in 2014 when the rail freight industry was worth £1.5 billion a year to the UK.
Published last week, the Rail Freight: Working for Britain report also found that British businesses benefited from the rail freight industry to the tune of £1.2 billion as a result of a rise in productivity, with an additional £0.5 billion generated in other economic benefits from rail freight that also reduced imbalances in regional economies. Around £30 billion worth of goods are transported by the UK freight industry each year.
The areas of the country shown to have the highest productivity and externality benefits were North West England, Yorkshire and Humber, Scotland and the West Midlands, which contributed 87% of the benefits secured outside London and the South East. Those benefits weren’t all financial, however, as the report also shows that congestions on the UK’s roads were eased which led to a reduction in carbon emissions. The RDG said that every tonne transported by rail rather than road cuts CO2 emissions by 76%.
Commenting on the report, the RDG said it would continue to work to help improve the freight industry, an aspect of the rail industry that it suggested could prove important in a post-Brexit Britain. “Working together, the partnership railway stands ready to do more to increase the benefits that rail freight is delivering for Britain,” said Paul Plummer, chief executive of the RDG. “As we prepare to develop new trading relationships outside the European Union, we can build on the £30 billion worth of goods carried by rail freight, connecting more British businesses with new markets via our sea ports around the country.”
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