Could there be a modal shift from road to rail to decarbonise freight?

Aug 17, 2022
Author: Paul Wormald
Paul is a partner at our Doncaster office. Paul specialises in advising small businesses and businesses in the transport & logistics sector. Paul also specialises in providing cloud accounting services to our clients.
Freight decarbonisation


The University of Birmingham and Pass Logistics (Multi-modal freight company) have signed a memorandum to conduct research into switching contained goods from road to rail to support decarbonisation. The aim of this memorandum is to develop solutions to help transport and logistics businesses reduce their carbon emissions in a financially viable way.


Why should there be a modal shift from road to rail freight?

Pass logistics have estimated that one full train could replace 80 lorries on the road. Each tonne of freight that is transported via rail produces 76% fewer carbon emissions compared to on the road. Removing more lorries from the road will result in less congested roads and less polluted city centres.

Furthermore, independent research conducted by Deloitte found that rail freight delivers £2.5 billion in economic and social benefits to the UK each year. It has been found that transporting goods via rail has more benefits than reducing carbon emissions. It also benefits businesses and consumers by providing a cost-efficient mode of transport helping with business cost control and resulting in better prices for consumers.


Helping transport & logistics companies understand their carbon emissions

In order to get more freight delivered by rail, researchers from both organisations will develop solutions to help transport & logistics companies understand their current carbon output. Once these businesses have a better understanding of their carbon output these organisations will suggest how alternative solutions such as transporting more freight via rail will affect their business in terms of cost and logistics. All of this will hopefully persuade some freight companies to reconsider how they transport goods in order to be more environmentally friendly.



To conclude, it has been found that a modal shift from road to rail will deliver more social and economic benefits to the UK. Therefore, researchers from Pass logistics and the University of Birmingham aim to help transport & logistics companies develop a better understanding of their carbon output. With the aim of persuading companies to reconsider how they can transport goods in a more environmentally friendly way.


How can we help?

At Hawsons we have a dedicated team of transport and logistics accountants at our offices in Sheffield, Doncaster and Northampton. We act for a large number of clients in this sector across our three offices, ranging from hauliers to international couriers, and understand the challenges this dynamic sector faces.

Nearly every other commercial sector is reliant on the services transport and logistic businesses provide and, in many ways, this specialist sector is the linchpin for our country’s economy.

With our experience in the transport and logistics sector we are able to develop a close understanding of your business and, through active year round involvement, we can help you anticipate and deal with challenges quickly and effectively.

Free initial meeting

Paul Wormald

Partner, Doncaster

Scott Sanderson

Partner, Sheffield

David Owens

Partner, Northampton

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