Coal down, construction up as UK railfreight drops by 5%

FREIGHT train movements in the UK dropped to 224,000 in 2016/17, a reduction of 5% over the previous year.

A 39% collapse in coal traffic, a result of stricter carbon emissions targets and the closure of coal-fired power stations, is the major factor behind the decrease.

The conversion of redundant coal hopper wagons for aggregates traffic is the most obvious sign of the changes happening in the UK railfreight industry. On June 5, GBRf’s No. 66726 Sheffield Wednesday arrives at Shirebrook with a rake of HYA/IIA hoppers for ‘cut & shut’ modifications at the nearby W H Davis wagon works. DEREK WILSON

In 2016/17, the total amount of freight lifted in Great Britain fell to 79.4 million tonnes, the lowest since 1984/85 – an 8% decrease on 2015/16 – and just over half the total recorded by BR’s Railfreight sector in 1988/89 (149.5 million tonnes).

The total volume of rail freight moved fell to 17.2 billion net tonne kilometres in 2016/17, a 3% reduction on 2015/16, and the lowest since the late-1990s, but the total amount of freight lifted in 2016/17 dropped by 8% to 79.4 million tonnes – the lowest value recorded since 1984/85.

Read more in the July 2017 issue of The RM – on sale now!

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