In March 2016, Scotland’s transport minister Derek Mackay launched the government’s new rail freight strategy. It puts forward a vision to develop a state-of-the-art, efficient and competitive rail freight system ready to meet the demands of modern markets.
The Scottish rail freight industry has been facing some serious challenges lately. The previously dominant steel and coal markets have experienced “much quicker and more severe” decline than predicted, leaving rail freight exposed.
“This decline in core commodities has not been matched by market growth in other areas, such as intermodal traffic,” the strategy report reads.
It was also estimated that after Scotland’s last coal-fired power station was decommissioned, the rail freight market was left facing “a significant gap” in the region of 50-70%. According to a report commissioned by the Scottish Government and the Rail Delivery Group, rail contributes up to £670m in annual Gross Value Added to Scotland’s economy. It also supports 13,000 jobs and creates a wider economic benefit of £650m. The freight sector represents “a key component of these figures”.