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Freight likely to be impacted by rail strikes

The UK national rail strikes on the 21st, 23rd and 25th June are the largest rail strikes in three decades, with just 20% of passenger services expected to operate and freight traffic volumes cut by 50%, with impact on critical cargo flows including supermarket supplies and fuel.

To mitigate the worst of the impact of the strikes, freight trains will take priority over passenger trains, with rail freight operating during the daytime, rather than at night, when it usually runs.

Network Rail, said: “We are working nonstop to keep nationally important freight flows moving during strike action.” The strikes are expected to affect key freight deliveries, such as fuel for commercial airlines and biomass to power stations.

But even with contingency plans in place, the Rail Freight Group still expects serious impacts to supply chains.“The pattern of proposed strike action is about as bad as it gets for rail freight, with disruption likely across the entire week and into the weekend.

“Even with the plans that are in place, supply chains will be impacted, and it is really damaging to customer confidence in rail, and to future growth.”

Budgeting plans by Network Rail are thought to include a provision to allow maintenance standards to lapse to RA8 (up to 22.8 tonnes), which would entail a major culling of maintenance operations and would have a considerable knock-on effect on the passage of rail cargo around the UK.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Removing 2,500 safety-critical jobs from Network Rail will spell disaster for the public, make accidents more likely and will increase the possibility of trains flying off the tracks.”

We don’t use rail directly and those shipping lines that do use rail for transport away from the ports have contingency plans to keep as much freight operating as possible on the rail network.

In preparing for potential disruption we are monitoring equipment locations and are working closely with our road freight partners, should there be any need to transfer cargo.