Timetable re­cast re­leases freight paths for other uses

Rail (UK) - - Network News - An­drew Ro­den Con­tribut­ing Writer rail@bauer­me­dia.co.uk @AndyRo­den1

A MA­JOR timetable re­cast un­der­taken by Network Rail and Bri­tain’s rail freight op­er­a­tors could re­lease 3,684 un­used train paths for other ser­vices.

The an­nounce­ment on March 31 fol­lowed a two-year in­dus­try-wide re­view which re­vealed that 50% of train paths re­served for freight trains were not be­ing used.

NR cred­its this to the large de­cline in coal traf­fic, as well as falls in iron and steel flows, freight op­er­a­tors run­ning longer and fuller trains, and pro­duc­tiv­ity im­prove­ments in­clud­ing run­ning fewer part-loaded trains.

In to­tal, 4,702 re­dun­dant train paths were iden­ti­fied, al­though 1,018 of these have been safe­guarded for fu­ture growth - par­tic­u­larly in the in­ter­modal and con­struc­tion sec­tors, which are grow­ing and are pre­dicted to con­tinue to do so in the fu­ture.

“It is im­por­tant the whole rail in­dus­try works to­gether to make best use of ex­ist­ing ca­pac­ity, to min­imise the need for ad­di­tional ex­pen­sive ca­pac­ity en­hance­ment schemes,” said NR Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor for Freight and Na­tional Pas­sen­ger Op­er­a­tors Paul McMa­hon.

“This is a real win-win, and has truly been a col­lab­o­ra­tive piece of work with the freight op­er­a­tors. Ca­pac­ity has been freed up for the whole rail­way, but es­sen­tial ca­pac­ity is re­served for freight op­er­a­tors.”

Freight­liner Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Rus­sell Mears, who chairs the Rail De­liv­ery Group freight group, added: “The freight op­er­a­tors and NR have worked to­gether in an ef­fec­tive and prag­matic way for the wider in­dus­try good. While re­tain­ing some key paths as strate­gic ca­pac­ity to sup­port fu­ture freight growth, the re­lease of other resid­ual paths is es­sen­tial in help­ing the Gov­ern­ment get the best value for money from our ca­pac­i­ty­con­strained rail­way.”

NR says there are cur­rently 4,967 freight paths in the Work­ing Timetable, of which around 20% were un­used in the last quar­ter, the low­est fig­ure ever recorded.

Many coal paths in the North East, Scot­land and South Wales have been re­moved, in ad­di­tion to some on the West Coast Main Line. Some of these are al­ready be­ing used by op­er­a­tors.

Among freight paths now used at least in part by pas­sen­ger op­er­a­tors are Leith-Hartle­pool (Vir­gin Trains East Coast), Ac­ton Yard-Slough (Great Western Rail­way) and North Blyth-Mossend (ScotRail).

Pro­duc­tiv­ity im­prove­ments that have helped re­lease paths in­clude in­creas­ing train weights for steel traf­fic be­tween Scun­thorpe and Dol­lands (from 1,600 tonnes to 1,800 tonnes with a cor­re­spond­ing in­crease in length), switch­ing from Class 66 to Class 92 trac­tion on Dol­lands Moor-Wem­b­ley wa­ter trains, and a 42.2% in­crease in train length from Did­cot to Carlisle.


GB Rail­freight 66772 passes Michelde­ver on March 28, with the 0942 Eastleigh Yard-Ton­bridge West Yard. More than 3,600 ad­di­tional freight paths could be cre­ated by Network Rail.

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