8 February 2019
By Gordon Herbert, Track Access Manager (Freight).
Rail freight may not grab many headlines but it is vital to our economy and our everyday lives. Britain relies on its railway to move everything from building materials and food to consumer goods and fuel around the country. One freight train can carry as much cargo as 30 lorries, and sometimes more, economical to say the least, as well as producing much less carbon emissions into the bargain.
It’s our job as the regulator to approve the contracts that freight train operators (FOCs) have with Network Rail and to ensure the rail market is both competitive and fair. We also deal with any disputes that may arise regarding access to freight terminals that are connected to the national network.
The freight customer
It is freight customers that ultimately drive the market and determine when and where freight needs to be moved by rail.
FOCs and freight customers, unlike most passenger train operators, do not operate under government franchises and most are independent private businesses.
And so, as the regulator it is vital that we understand freight customers’ needs and concerns.
Freight customer service
We are proactive in our efforts to engage with freight customers.
Our Freight Customer Panel and annual Freight Customer Event are opportunities for freight customers to learn more about ORR’s role; to express their views on what ORR’s priorities should be, and to discuss how ORR can best engage.
Attendees regularly include delegates from bulk and aggregates suppliers, ports, shippers, logistics companies, trade associations, consultants, other transport bodies and government departments.
Engagement is very much a two-way track and we listen to the suggestions from freight customers.
In response to feedback we have developed a new track access contract that gives freight customers more choice about their contractual relationship with Network Rail, even if they don’t operate freight trains themselves.
Keep track of our freight events on our website.