Posted 2nd April 2020 | 1 Comment

Freight operators set to strengthen trains

FREIGHT operators are examining ways to load more containers on their trains, as the demand for rail freight services continues to grow during the coronavirus crisis.

Network Rail says one million tonnes of cargoes are travelling on the West Coast Main Line every week, with a further 370,000 tonnes being carried between west London, Cornwall and Wales.

The cargoes range from supermarket supplies and medicines to fuel for power stations. Royal Mail trains are carrying letters and parcels between London and Glasgow, while petrol is being moved from Humberside to the West Midlands and from Scotland to Cumbria.

Network Rail says its priority is to keep vital supply routes open. Signallers, drivers and other rail staff are playing a critical part, and Network Rail has renewed its appeal for former signallers to return to duty in several areas.

Tim Shoveller, who is managing director for Network Rail’s North West & Central Region, said: ‘Our job is to continue moving critical supplies where they’re needed – keeping supermarket shelves stocked, hospital medicine cupboards full, power stations fuelled.

‘Our frontline “key workers’, including signallers, control room staff and track engineers are the hidden heroes in this national team effort. They are helping NHS medics to save lives and keeping shop shelves stocked, and I’m proud of them.’

Rail Freight Group director general Maggie Simpson added: ‘The rail freight industry is working flat out to make sure essential supplies are available on supermarket shelves, that the lights stay on and that the warehouses have all the goods we need for online shopping.

‘It is a real testament to all our staff and those at Network Rail for keeping up with changing demand in these difficult times.’

Reader Comments:

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  • david c smith, Bletchley

    Freight often takes the back seat , displaced by the main attention given to the passenger railway. Who knows - if passenger don't flock back after the coronavirus crisis, freight traffic might be able to more freely grow.

    Container movements, especially to/from ports seems to have been a big success. However, "inland"( including through the Chunnel) movement of merchandise traffic has not seen the same growth . ISO containers alone probably are not the answer to this . They need lifting equipment at dedicated terminals, Also, many freight customers have facilities for loading /unloading for road semiitrailers rather than for containers.

    Perhaps this untapped market could be addressed with developing technology for a form of "piggyback"operation within our tight loading guages? The French Modalohr system , and its close cousin the British Charterail ( used for a short time in the 1990's ) both give a possible way
    forward with side loading of semitrailers, which do not need to be specially strengthened for craneage. At the same time, many freight routes have been adapted for moving 9' 6'' containers, thereby easing loading guage problems.