Infrastructure manager Network Rail has announced that 50% of the UK rail freight operators’ weekly path allocations will be relinquished as they are not being used. This decision followed a two-year joint review by Network Rail and freight rail operators, in an attempt to increase the efficiency of freight operations.
4,702 unused allocated “paths” – which are the slots a freight train has on the railway and in the timetable- have been relinquished per week to liberate capacity on the rail network.
According to statement by Network Rail, these paths “could become available for all train operators to run additional services on a daily basis or re-time existing services to reduce congestion and improve reliability”.
However, 1,000 of the removed paths are reserved for future freight growth. According to the infrastructure manager, the spare capacity is due to several factors including more efficient freight operations, and better productivity with fewer, part-loaded freight trains, reducing wasted capacity.