>> Transpacific - port coverage from April 1st.more.

>> Are direct services becoming less attractive for shipping lines?. more.

>> What happens to the small ships post Panama Canal expansion?. more.

>> Maersk to acquire Hamburg-Sud and reinforce its presence on the Latin America routes. more.

>>£0.5 trillion of trade passes through UK ports. More.

>> The future of rail freight and private investment. More.

>> The Northern Freight and Logistics report. More. 

>> Oxford Cambridge Expressway Study. More.

>> The potential impact of Brexit on trade. More.

>> India - the impact of shipping lines’ consolidation and the cabotage rule change. More.

>> Iran – changes in maritime services post-sanctions. more.

>> 'India: The only way is up' say MDST in an article published by Lloyds List. More.

>> Hanjin’s collapse - A wake-up call to the industry? More.

>> Peak season 2016: could the seemingly more rational shipping lines restore stability to the market?. More.

>> Panama Canal Expansion: the major announcements so far have been made by the CKYHE Alliance and G6 Alliance: each have indicated the upsizing of some of their vessels on the services passing through the Panama Canal as shown in MDS Transmodal's analysis. More.

>> CMA-CGM’s acquisition of Neptune Orient Lines and Cosco’s merger with China Shipping Container Line (CSCL), prompted the need for a few changes in the current capacity-sharing agreements amongst the shipping lines. More.

>> MDST has been appointed by Transport for the North (TfN), in partnership with York Aviation and Regeneris Consulting, to carry out a review of international passenger connectivity in the North of England. More.

>> Chris Rowland, Managing Director of MDST, presented the draft conclusions from the Transport for the North (TfN) Freight & Logistics Strategy at the Freight in the City Conference in Manchester on 3 March 2016. More.

>> With 22 maritime services, Iran is expected to see an increase of around 250% in the capacity of container shipping passing through its ports in spring 2016, as shipping lines seek to benefit from the removal of sanctions. More.

>> MDST Chairman, Mike Garratt, wrote to the editor of RAIL magazine in March about the future of rail freight in Great Britain. More.

>> MDST has examined the evidence for Chinese ‘dumping’ of steel on the global and UK markets using its World Cargo Database, which allows it to monitor world trade by both volume and value and for detailed commodities. More.

>> East Asia export box trade sees growth of 1.7% in 2015, says MDST in an article published by Lloyds List. More.

>> The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has published road traffic forecasts which used MDST’s GB Freight Model (GBFM) to develop forecasts to 2040 for HGV traffic on the British road network. More.

>> Ports should be at the centre of distribution chains says MDST. More.

>> Based on its analysis of Eurostat port statistics and its own World Cargo Database, MDS Transmodal has concluded that ports handled 640 million tonnes in 2014, a market share of 40%. More.

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The Future Of Rail Freight In Great Britain

MDS Transmodal’s Chairman, Mike Garratt, wrote to the editor of RAIL magazine in March about the future of rail freight in Great Britain following an editorial that suggested that the decline in coal traffic might call into question rail freight’s future role and potential. 

Nigel Harris
Managing Editor
Media House, Lynch Wood
Peterborough Business Park

Dear Nigel

Your editorial on freight: edition of 2.3.16

I am writing about the extensive coverage you recently gave to the impact on rail freight volumes of the decline in coal and the danger that this would call into question rail freight’s future role and potential. I would like to provide two very simple performance statistics to counter such an impression.

Based entirely on data available in Transport Statistics Great Britain, between 2004 and 2014 GB heavy rail passenger volumes (measured in passenger trips made) can be shown to have grown by 4.8% p.a. as compared with the overall market in trips (all modes) by only around 0.2%. Rail passenger growth was therefore 4.6% p.a. faster than for road and rail together. That growth is widely celebrated.

However, over the same period and in head to head competition with road haulage the tonnage of all rail freight lifted except coal in Great Britain grew by 1.6% p.a. while the overall freight market actually fell by 2.1% p.a. Non coal rail freight growth was therefore almost as fast for passengers relative to the size of the market addressed at 3.7% p.a.

Coal should be ignored in evaluating performance; tonnages have fluctuated alarmingly through the failure of Government energy policies to provide business with the sort of environment that can encourage efficient investment strategies. Much of that coal was in any event captive to rail; monitoring coal tonnages carried did not help to evaluate rail’s competitiveness.

That growth figure for rail freight takes into account that overall less freight is now lifted because the 2009 recession saw off so much manufacturing industry, itself damaging traditional rail freight markets and despite the failure of Network Rail to always deliver capacity where required.

This performance by rail freight has been achieved despite network capacity constraints on key freight generators (such as with Felixstowe). Rail freight does not only compete with road. It also competes for rail network capacity with passenger services which are generally allocated capacity based upon franchise commitments planned well in advance.

As is generally recognised most coal traffic used those parts of the network that do not trouble principal north-south routes.  By contrast, most other (growing) rail freight traffics share routes with growing passenger markets and are hence in competition for limited network capacity.  If, as we would anticipate, overall the non-coal all modes freight market now grows in line with population (i.e. the process of de-industrialisation is now more or less complete) then based on the last decade’s performance rail freight’s non-coal tonnages would triple by 2043 (in line with the Network Rail’s Freight Market Study), but only if sufficient network capacity is available and land use policies direct a substantial amount of warehousing to rail connected sites as set out in the Government’s Strategic Rail Freight Interchange policy.

An increase in rail freight’s market share has a very positive role to play in raising the efficiency of the UK freight industry. Despite the lack of network capacity it is growing its market share almost as fast as is the passenger sector through being cost effective.

Yours sincerely

Mike Garratt

MDS Transmodal