Better rail capacity utilisation through marketisation
Apparently, it was only recently that Network Rail and freight train operators identified that 50 per cent of the slots reserved for freight on Britain’s railway were not being used, and “could potentially be given up for thousands of new passenger and [other] freight services”.
[‘Rail freight industry and Network Rail collaborate to increase railway capacity’, Network Rail, apparently undated]
Per week, 4,702 allocated ‘paths’ – the slots a freight train has on the railway and in the timetable – have been relinquished, freeing-up much needed capacity on the rail network. They 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.
[…] This additional capacity has been created at zero cost and has not led to any reductions in the number of freight trains running on the network. It represents a huge opportunity for both freight and passenger operators to increase traffic on the network without the need for expensive infrastructure enhancement schemes.
Much-improved capacity utilisation and allocation could follow if GB rail access charging were reformed to better reflect path scarcity on different routes. For this to work properly, Network Rail would need to be extensively reorganised, but not in the way proposed in the Shaw report.