25 YEARS OF PRIVATISED RAIL FREIGHT

JULIAN WORTH looks back over an eventful quarter century

The die was cast in April 1992 when John Major won the General Election. Amidst much controversy and debate, freight was probably the least contentious part of rail privatisation – it was already operating in a fully commercial environment, competing with road haulage toe-to-toe and generating substantial profits: Trainload Freight (TLF) was making up to £100 million a year on a turnover of £500 million.

In addition to TLF, British Rail’s Freight Sector owned two other businesses. These were Railfreight Distribution (RfD), which ran trainload and container services, along with conventional rail freight through the Channel Tunnel; and parcels and charter operator Rail Express Systems (Res).

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