Royal Mail Class 325 EMU

Photos: Dan, CC BY-SA 4.0

UK: Royal Mail has decided to stop using rail to move letters and parcels, replacing its electric train services with road haulage from October 10.

Operator DB Cargo UK said it was ‘profoundly disappointed’ by Royal Mail’s decision, which it said had been taken purely because of the increasing costs of electric traction and the high investment needs of the ageing Class 325 freight EMUs. It said Royal Mail had explicitly reiterated DB Cargo UK’s excellent operating performance and fleet maintenance.

DB Cargo UK said it had been lobbying the government for some time to address traction electricity prices, ‘which are beyond the price many of our customers can afford to pay’.

DB Cargo said that one of the UK’s highest profile companies ending its use of rail ‘shows that real change is needed now if we are to have any chance of meeting the government’s plan to boost modal shift by 75% by 2050’, adding that it would now be seeking urgent talks with the new government, policymakers and other key industry stakeholders ‘to see what more can be done to level the playing field between rail freight and the heavily subsidised road haulage sector’.

Commenting on the news, independent parcels train operator Varamis Rail said more support was needed for rail freight ‘for easing congestion and utilising existing networks’.

Rail Partners’ CEO Andy Bagnall explained that ‘despite the wide consensus on the importance of rail freight growth to reducing carbon emissions and getting lorries off our roads, such growth won’t happen on its own. To ensure we fully realise the benefits of rail freight, it is essential to create a level playing field between different modes of transport so that freight customers aren’t priced out of making the right decision for the environment by rising costs compared to road haulage.’