But significant international growth in Q4
The total amount of freight moved by rail in 2014-15 fell by 2.2% year on year, according to statistics released by the Office of Rail and Road. The amount fell from 22.7 billion net tonne kilometres in 2013-14 to 22.2 billion, although this is still the second highest figure recorded.
However, despite the overall decrease, the volume moved in Quarter 4 (1 January to 31 March) grew by 1.1% compared with the previous year, reaching 5.8 billion net tonne kilometres.
Compared with Q4 the previous year, growth was strongest in the international category (31.2%), followed by construction (12.5%). Coal, oil and petroleum and metals all showed a decline compared with the previous year, with coal still accounting for the greatest proportion of freight moved (1.8 billion net tonne km) despite a 9.1% fall year on year. Across the financial year as a whole, the amount of coal moved fell by 19.5% to 6.5 billion net tonne km.
The amount of freight lifted over the year 2014-15 fell by 5.5% to 110.1 million tonnes, although the Q4 figure of 29.9 million tonnes is the highest level in a single quarter since the start of the time series. While the amount of coal lifted across the year fell by 15.5%, the Q4 total grew by 6.2% compared with the same period in 2013-14.
The gradual improvement in freight performance continued through the year with freight delay per 100 train kilometres falling by 15.7% year on year in Q4. ORR says the trend in freight delay minutes reduction could be due to the ability to revise a freight train schedule at much shorter notice and thereby minimise the impact of delays.