Our Strategic Freight Unit (SFU) will be the guiding mind for rail freight, providing strategic leadership to unlock opportunities for growth in the sector, and with a constantly focusing on innovation

Rail freight accounts for just 10 per cent of surface freight moved in Britain. This delivers social and economic benefits worth £2.5 billion to the UK each year, much of that in former industrial heartlands. 

Moving goods by rail benefits the environment too compared to HGVs, producing around three-quarters less carbon per tonne of goods transported.  Every additional freight train represents around 75 HGV’s taken off our roads and in 2016-7 freight moved by rail avoided 8.2million HGV journeys.

The SFU’s aim is to grow the share of freight carried by rail, ensuring priorities are informed by customer need. It will provide a single point of contact for freight operators and end users, bringing together the decision-making levers of strategy, policy development, commercial, planning, market development and RD&I, enabling a long-term strategic approach which will promote market growth, modal shift, and decarbonisation objectives.

GBRTT has already held a once in a generation call for evidence to get the voices of the freight sector, wider industry and non-rail users on their ambitions and opportunities for growth, following a commission from the Government to recommend freight growth target options.

We saw how critical and resilient the freight industry was throughout the pandemic and the HGV driver crisis. More goods should be transported by rail, and the SFU will ensure freight’s place is strengthened on the network. We are designing a better business model with and for freight operators and customers.

Simpler and better to do business with

Our Strategic Freight Unit will:

  • Provide a single point of contact for Freight Operating Companies and end users
  • Input freight expertise and guidance to access and charging reforms
  • Provide strategic leadership of the rail freight industry
  • Advocate across policy, commercial and technical spheres.
  • Lead rail freight RD&I, strategy, policy and delivery.
  • Develop and recommend incentives to expand the client base and support decarbonisation.
  • Develop target markets and associated network developments, including new terminals.
  • Facilitate rail freight growth and modal shift from road

Our work to date and what we have achieved

The Rail Freight Strategy puts forward a holistic vision and strategy, to inform the freight element of the long-term strategy for rail. Our Strategic Freight Unit is the single point of accountability for producing and iterating the Rail Freight Strategy.

The strategy calls for us to design the new offer for freight in partnership with operators and customers. We have hosted a series of Freight Deep Dives with freight operators and a freight customer advisory panel to explore a new commercial model design under GBR. Our 0-5-year Market Development Plan sets out a co-ordinated industry approach to stimulating growth and expanding the current rail freight client base through targeted activities. Alongside this, our Freight Estate Strategy will outline set out how we best use our current estate and where we need our major rail freight infrastructure in the future.

Useful links