It can have a major impact on reducing road traffic - one train can carry the equivalent of 50 lorry loads - and has proven much safer. In 2005 no casualties were caused by rail freight.
Forty per cent of all London deliveries to the construction industry are now carried by freight trains, a figure which is growing due to the increasing competitiveness of rail.
We want more businesses to move their goods by train.
To achieve this we must ensure there is capacity on the network for freight trains and develop the right facilities, such as modern warehouses next to rail links.
If goods were directly transferred to rail without the need for transfer by lorry, it would cost less and make rail freight a more attractive distribution option.
Without these warehouse facilities, there is no realistic alternative to road freight for the distribution industry.
Our Rail freight strategy (PDF 1.4MB) looks at how to increase rail freight in London.
It offers a series of solutions for managing passenger and freight growth over the next 10 years. Crucially, it calls for investment in three or four rail-linked terminals around the M25.
ToolkitsIncluded in our strategy are two planning toolkits for London boroughs:
- The Planning policy toolkit (PDF 3.47MB) is a guide for London borough planning policymakers on how to protect rail freight sites through the planning process
- The Development control toolkit (PDF 2.34MB) considers all the issues on practical town planning development control and helps to move towards high quality final development
The toolkits are complemented by a sites list document and guidance notes. Please email us to request copies of these documents.
Please note that TfL does not offer funding. The Department for Transport provides information on grants.
London Rail has helped to secure approval for the first modern rail-linked distribution park in London.
The Howbury Park Rail Freight Terminal, near Slade Green in Bexley, will provide between 1600 to 2600 new jobs in one of the most deprived areas of London.
This is a major contribution to tackling climate change - and a significant breakthrough in how the planning system serves London's strategic rail needs.
Although freight sites already exist in the Midlands and the north of England, it has been difficult for developers to find suitable sites in and around London where they can get planning permission.
Network Rail forecasts that the rail freight market could grow by up to 800 per cent by 2015 if the planning system continues to support schemes for rail-linked distribution parks like Howbury Park