The amount of freight moved on the rail network in Britain rose by 9.5% during 2004/05 to 20.7 billion net tonne kilometers, EWS, Britain’s largest rail operator, said.
The increase was announced as the European Commission approved an extension to the payment of rail freight Channel Tunnel tolls. This is a boost to EWS’s new European rail freight subsidiary, Euro Cargo Rail, which will start operations in France later this year.
The increase of 9.5% means that rail freight has grown by 60% since 1995, and that the amount of freight moved, measured by billion net tonne kilometers, is at its highest level since 1977.
EWS has facilitated this growth in rail freight by continually improving its service offering, ensuring it delivers its customers with reliable and punctual services that provide them with value for money. Through this approach, new long term contracts have been won by EWS over the last year from customers in the construction, petroleum, aggregate, coal, intermodal and general merchandise markets.
Growth has also been achieved by improving the efficiency of existing services. EWS has created an additional 4.3 million tonnes of coal haulage capacity over the last year by operating longer services to power stations.
The effects of the working time directive and rising fuel costs have also seen EWS win long distance trunk haulage from the road network, with local distribution provided by road creating a new partnership between the two modes.
Future growth in rail freight is expected to continue by increasing services for bulk haulage, general merchandise and fast moving consumer goods. EWS also expects that rail freight services to and from mainland Europe will see significant growth, delivered by Euro Cargo Rail. In planning for this overall growth, EWS is currently investing GBP61 million during 2005/06 in new wagons, international terminals and line re-openings.
In a further boost to rail freight growth, the European Commission has announced its approval for the extension of the existing agreement between EWS International and the UK Government on freight tolls through the Channel Tunnel. This agreement, which will last until November 2006, will encourage international freight traffic and pave the way for a long term charging agreement from December 2006.
The growth in European rail freight will be facilitated by the operation of rail freight services in France under a newly formed company, Euro Cargo Rail.
Based in Paris, Euro Cargo Rail will play an active role in growing rail freight in Europe, in line with European Commission policy.
The new company is part of a strategy to grow international rail freight volumes, not only in Britain and through the Channel Tunnel, but also in mainland Europe, building on EWS’s existing European expertise. Initial services will operate in France and interest from potential customers is high.
Euro Cargo Rail has been established as a company in France, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of English Welsh & Scottish Railway Holdings Limited.
Rail freight in Europe currently accounts for 8% of the total freight transportation base. Following legislation from the European Commission to facilitate rail freight growth and competition, this is forecast to rise from 8% to 15% by 2020.
Keith Heller, EWS Chief Executive, said, “This has been a record breaking year for rail freight in Britain. By operating efficiently and creating the right packages for customers more business has been won to rail. Much has been achieved and we have a blueprint to win significant new volumes to rail over 2005/06. Whilst we achieve this, we have exceptional people who deliver these services and I’d like to thank all of the staff at EWS for delivering a great service to our customers and a good result for rail freight.” On European services, Mr Heller said: “The decision by the European Commission to approve the extension of the existing Channel Tunnel tolls agreement until November 2006 is welcome news for our new subsidiary Eur