Royal Mail to stop moving post by rail on cost grounds

Royal Mail has officially told DB Cargo that it will end its use of rail freight in October, in favour of road haulage. In a letter to staff, DB Cargo UK CEO Andrea Rossi spoke of the company's "profound disappointment" at the decision, which he said was a U-turn on Royal Mail's previous commitment to increase the use of rail freight to meet Net Zero targets. Stressing that the decision was not based on any performance failings, Rossi said it raised concerns not only for DB Cargo but for the wider rail freight sector.

"Royal Mail has made it clear that its decision is purely down to the increasing costs of electric traction (EC4T) and the high investment needs of its ageing 325 fleet," he wrote, adding: "This is not a decision against DB Cargo UK but one against the economics of rail freight as a mode of transport. "As a result, we will now be seeking urgent talks with the new Labour 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. "For some time now we have been lobbying Government to address the issue of high EC4T charges which are beyond the price many of our customers can afford to pay - indeed this is why we ourselves had to take the difficult decision to withdraw our Class 90s," Rossi continued.

Royal Mail is increasingly favouring road transport to move post around the country, and has also just announced a sharp reduction in its use of domestic flights, though in that case the reasons given are carbon reduction and improved reliability, as flights can be subject to weather disruption and capacity constraints. A Royal Mail spokesman commented on the decision: "Royal Mail will continue to use rail services to transport mail across the country however our own freight trains are at the end of their operational lives. The trains are almost 30 years old and it is increasingly difficult to secure parts for maintenance and the routes we need to meet our service requirements.

"To improve reliability, increase cost effectiveness and remain consistent with our environmental goals, over the coming months we will cease operating our own trains whilst continuing to use a mix of rail, road and air to transport mail to all corners of the UK."