Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Rail Freight Partner Group‌?
The Rail Freight Partner Group is a subdivision of the North East Freight Partnership. Representative stakeholders from the rail freight industry, or with an interest in rail freight, attend twice-yearly meetings to discuss the opportunities and barriers for rail freight in the North East.

2. What are their aims and objectives‌ ?
The Rail Freight Partner Group aims to grow the volume of goods moved in this region by rail where it is environmentally and economically beneficial to do so. It seeks to provide information and promote awareness about rail freight options, and to bring together groups with a common interest in the subject.

3. What are the advantages of rail freight‌ ?
Rail freight can offer a number of advantages as part of the supply chain.

On average, rail freight produces 70% less carbon dioxide than the equivalent journey on road, even allowing for distribution from the rail terminal. The average freight train removes around 60 lorry trips from the road.

Rail freight uses less fuel per movement as a gallon of diesel will carry a tonne of freight 246 miles by rail as opposed to 88 miles by road.

Rail freight is reliable, and performance has improved considerably in recent years, with over three quarters of all freight trains arriving within 10 minutes of their booked slot.

4. Who are the rail freight operators‌?
Key players in the market are; DB Schenker Rail (UK), formerly English, Welsh and Scottish Railways; Freightliner Ltd; Freightliner Heavy Haul; Direct Rail Services; GB Railfreight; Colas Rail. Europorte also operate services through the Channel Tunnel.

5. Who are the logistics companies who might help me get my goods movements onto trains‌?
Rail Freight is becoming more popular and many 3PLs are becoming more interested in offering their customers a more environmentally friendly method of transporting goods. Nearly all of the large logistics providers offer rail services through a partnership with a freight operating company.

6. How do I contact them‌?
The rail section of the North East Freight Partnership’s website has the contact details for all the logistics providers - see . Alternatively the Rail Freight Group (RFG) Annual Handbook has a full list of logistics providers - this can be found at the RFG website

7. My business is in retail goods; is rail-freight for me‌?
More and more retail goods are being moved by rail, both on the import leg from port to warehouse, and also between rail-linked warehouses and terminals within the UK. Intermodal rail freight has grown 60% in the last 7 years and now offers a network of services on key routes.

Of course, rail will never be able to compete on secondary distribution to individual stores, but more and more of the trunking movements are now using rail.

8. Who do I ask about opportunities for using rail freight in Britain and Continental Europe?‌
Two operators presently operate via the Channel Tunnel – DB Schenker and Europorte.

9. Can freight trains operate direct from Britain to Continental Europe without transshipment; are others currently making such shipments‌?
Cross-channel rail freight has always been possible thanks to the Channel Tunnel. Although this market has not reached its full potential, services continue to operate, and new market offerings are emerging, including using overnight services on HS1.

10. What sort of cargoes are currently moved by train‌?
Rail handles all cargoes that can be carried by road and many that can not, such as very heavy loads and coal.

11. Does rail freight cater for short haul transits‌?
Rail freight services operate across a range of distances. Although longer hauls tend to be more cost advantageous, local factors such as road congestion can sometimes make rail viable even on short journeys.

12. Does rail freight cater for transit of relatively small cargoes - e.g. single wagon loads‌?
Presently there is no single wagon load service in the UK. However 3PLs have a role to play in consolidating trainloads at rail terminals – for example, the services operating from Daventry.

13. Who will move my goods from the railfreight terminal to my depot‌?
Most 3PLs and rail operators offer a one-stop-shop service and will assist.

14. How do I contact them‌?
Trade organisations such as the Rail Freight Group can help in finding a list of providers, however they must be objective and so cannot recommend individual companies.

15. Is rail freight able to cater for the transit of deep-sea containers‌?
Yes, the key routes have been upgraded to allow standard shipping containers to operate. Other routes can make use of specialist wagons.

16. Which North East ports have rail links‌?
Port of Tyne, Port of Blyth, Port of Sunderland, Teesport and Seaham all have rail links, as do Immingham and Hull further to the south

17. Is there a deep-sea container terminal on Tyneside‌?
Yes, the Port of Tyne(Panamax ready). To the south of the region, there is Teesport and AV Dawson.

18. Now that the Rio Tinto Alcan plant is closed what will happen to the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne freight line?‌
Port of Blyth has a business plan to increase the number of rail paths from the port.

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