There is a huge opportunity for rail freight to increase its market share by offering wider capacity and more destinations across the country.
Speaking at the Multimodal Connect webinar, ‘All you need to know about moving your cargo by rail’, Steve Freeman, Managing Director at iPort Rail, urged the industry to champion the advantages it has enough over other modes of transport. This includes lower carbon emissions and increased sustainability, which customers are increasingly demanding, as well as better reliability.
He added that a rebalance of freight flows was also needed in the post-Brexit landscape to help supply chains adapt.
“Instead of transporting most of our goods via the UK’s southern ports, we need to be looking more to the eastern ports such as Humberside and Teesside,” he said. “More people are realising that there are great opportunities for inland rail freight terminals and the rail freight industry generally when we begin to look at a wider choice of destinations.”
He added that iPort Rail was at an advanced stage of becoming customs certified, which would result in “customs corridors” with Teesside and Humberside ports, ahead of them becoming freeports. This would reduce the risk of delays at busy seaports by allowing customers transporting goods through the region before paying customs duties when their goods leave the iPort Rail site.
The panel also looked at the impact of e-commerce on the rail freight sector, including converting passenger trains into express freight trains to handle the transport of parcels.
The panel included Emma Dempsey, Chief Commercial Officer, Genesee & Wyoming; Maggie Simpson, Director General, Rail Freight Group; John Williams, Executive Chairman, Maritime Transport; and Martin Woor, Senior Manager – Strategic Rail Network Development, Hutchison Ports (UK).