Strikes hit freight levels

Industrial action has affected the amount of freight moved on Britain’s railway and operational performance, according to the Office of Rail and Road’s latest statistics.

They show that 4 billion net tonne-kilometres (NTKm) were moved between July and September, the lowest levels in the regulator’s time series and 6.4% lower than in the same quarter in 2021.

The freight lifted figure of 18.7 million tonnes was also a 5.9% drop compared to a year ago, while the Freight Delivery Metric performance measure declined to 84.9% of trains arriving within 15 minutes of schedule – the lowest level since 2013.

Intermodal traffic accounts for 34.5% of freight moved, with construction materials accounting for another 30.9%. Coal has rebounded slightly, with a 77.5% increase over the quarter to 3.1% of all freight moved. 

In addition to industrial disputes on the railway, disruption to deep sea shipping and reduction in consumer spending have caused intermodal traffic to fall, while a decline in construciotn traffic is blamed on rising costs and economic uncertainty. High Speed 2 demand for aggregates have helped to soften the impact, however. 

DB Cargo and Freightliner Intermodal and Heavy Haul all suffered falls in freight train kilometres operated, but Direct Rail Services, GB Railfreight, Colas Freight and Devon and Cornwall Railways all recorded increases.