Freight volumes fall, and strikes are blamed

Railfreight down ++ The Office of Rail and Road has reported that freight volumes fell between 1 July and 30 September. The regulator said the drop had been caused by strikes. Total freight moved was four billion net tonne kilometres, which was 6.4 per cent lower than in the same three months a year earlier. The chief executive of the industry lobby group Rail Partners, Andy Bagnall, has warned that the decline underlines the ‘negative impact industrial action is having on rail freight demand, despite not directly involving the freight companies’. He continued: ‘Some customers are already losing confidence due to the disruption and switching from rail to road. There is a very real risk that if resolution is not achieved quickly, more customers will choose less environmentally sustainable modes in the long term. This not only puts the potential growth of the sector at risk, but it also undermines the ability of rail freight to contribute to wider economic growth and support the achievement of net zero targets.’

Radio row ++ Train services are badly disrupted again today by the first 48-hour RMT strike of train operating and Network Rail staff this week. Many lines are closed for a second day, and another strike is set to be staged on Friday and Saturday in the continuing dispute over pay and conditions. Meanwhile, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has accused the BBC of ‘parroting’ the right-wing press. In a heated exchange with Today programme presenter Mishal Husain, Mr Lynch said: ‘You never show any admiration for the fight that working people are putting up for our country, for the rebalancing of society. You never criticise the super-rich for what they're doing to nurses, what they're doing to postal workers, and you never seem to take an impartial view on the way this society is balanced at the moment with the complete lack of distribution of wealth.’ The BBC has declined to comment.

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