Strategic Freight Network: The Longer-Term Vision


1. Rail freight plays a key role in a delivering a sustainable distribution system, contributing to the achievement of the United Kingdom’s economic and environmental objectives.

2. The Strategic Rail Freight Network (SFN) is designed to optimise the freight performance of our intensively utilised mixed-traffic rail network, allowing the efficient operation of more, longer and selectively larger freight trains.

3. Interventions will be required to:

  • optimise freight trunk routeings to minimise passenger/freight conflicts;
  • make the network available 24-hours a day, all year round;
  • eliminate pinch points; and
  • upgrade network capability.

4. SFN investment in Rail Control Period 4 (2009-10 to 2013-14) is focused on loading gauge enhancement to W10/12 and train lengthening.

5. Longer-term action and investment in the SFN will be required to deliver the following key elements:

  • longer and heavier trains;
  • efficient operating characteristics;
  • seven-day/24-hour capability;
  • W12 loading gauge on all strategic container routes;
  • European (UIC GB+) loading gauge from High Speed 1 (HS1) to the Midlands;
  • increased freight capacity;
  • electrification of freight routes;
  • development of strategic rail freight interchanges and terminals; and
  • protection of strategic freight capacity.

6. Network Rail studies have been commissioned to identify the future preferred freight routes between the London and the South-East and the Midlands and North of England; and, in conjunction with that, an optimal cross-London freight strategy.

Strategic Freight Network: The Longer-Term Vision (913 kb)

This document explains the Strategic Freight Network’s (SFN’s) background including the Government’s 2007 Rail White Paper commitment; provides information on SFN development from 2009/10 up to 2013/14; identifies key elements for the future SFN beyond 2013/14; and provides four rail freight network maps.

22 September 2009

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