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Friday, December 3, 2021

Lorry-driver shortage: How retailers are starting to move more goods by train

The UK economy has for decades relied on the transportation of goods by road. The lack of HGV drivers has been one of the main reasons for the lack of food on supermarket shelves in recent months. According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK is estimated to need 100,000 more drivers, with 53,000 fewer people working than in 2017.

After a period of diminishing use of trains for freight, there are now some signs of a shift towards carrying goods by rail. The UK government has just announced a doubling of freight train capacity at the Port of Liverpool, while a GB Railfreight service between Liverpool and the East Midlands, launched in late 2020, is expected to carry 20,000 lorries by road .

Lorries are generally considered cost-effective compared to rail, especially for carrying items over short distances, such as from regional distribution centers to retail stores. UK roads provide more direct access to customers as many distribution points are located on the road network but not on the railway line.

But trains offer environmental benefits: Research shows that each freight train hauls about 76 lorries off the road. Per ton of goods transported by rail, emissions are about eight times lower than by road transport. Around 91% of UK emissions originate from road transport, making it the largest contributor to UK greenhouse-gas emissions.

One obstacle to the expansion of rail freight traffic is the necessary investment in additional equipment to lift containers in and out of the rail network. However, as rail freight increases and infrastructure is created, these costs will come down. Generally economies of scale should mean that overall rail freight costs will decrease as more companies switch.

Although some of Britain’s largest retailers are already increasing the use of trains, ASDA has moved clothing from Teesport in North Yorkshire to four clothing distribution centers by rail, from there onward travel to shops by road. is being done. Tesco is using temperature-controlled rail containers to move fresh produce from Spain to Scotland, and plans to move the use of trains to 65,000 to 90,000 40-foot containers by the end of 2021.

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last mile

Perhaps the greatest weakness of the railroad is its final end of the journey from stations to warehouses or shops. But large zero-emissions electric trucks are becoming more widely available. Bikes can help reduce both congestion and pollution. DHL already operates cargo bikes for last mile delivery in the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany and Ireland. In London, DHL is using Cargo Bike and Thames River Boat service for parcel delivery.

One expert argues that the HGV driver crisis can be reduced by moving more freight on trains.
TT Studio / Shutterstock

The UK government’s plans for the north of England include plans to increase freight traffic through the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. But a recent announcement that a high-speed rail link to Leeds (HS2) is being scrapped could reduce the prospects of a growth in regional rail freight traffic by more than 50%.

One of the main problems facing the UK rail freight industry is that there are some gaps in passenger train schedules for non-stop freight services in congested networks – a problem created by the rapid HS2 rail link increasing capacity. would have been relieved.



Read more: HS2 Leeds branch cancelled: what will it mean for the north of England? – Expert Q&A


More carriages and longer platforms are being considered to increase the rail network capacity in the short term. More passengers using shorter, longer trains will free up space on the track for more freight trains in the schedule.

Since 2013 the UK government has also been quietly encouraging a shift to water-moving goods as a way of achieving its environmental objectives towards net zero. It also provides grant money to cover additional operating costs that may result.

For example, Kellogg’s moves 2,500 containers a year to the port of Merseyside on the Manchester Ship Canal. This helps to take about 5,000 HGV trips off the road every year.

Rail and water both offer opportunities to reduce reliance on lorries and to make freight transport more environmentally friendly in the UK, helping the UK reach its net-zero emissions target.

This article is republished from – The Conversation – Read the – original article.

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