Guide

Moving goods by rail

Introduction

Although rail has traditionally been used for moving bulk materials, there is a significant market in intermodal containers carrying non-bulk goods. Generally, exporters use rail when other modes of transport are unsuitable or relatively expensive.

Rail transports over 100 million tonnes of goods worth around £30 billion every year, while demand is predicted to grow by 30 per cent through to 2020. The rail industry's move away from state monopolies and subsidies within the European Union has opened up competition and resulted in a growing market for rail services, encouraging new rail operators to enter the marketplace. Rail can be cheaper than other forms of transport, particularly over long distances, and can offer greater reliability and time savings. However, rail services can take time to arrange and are not well suited to small consignments.

This guide explains the rules governing the transport of goods by rail and highlights key documents you need. It also shows you how to decide if rail is the right mode of transport for you and how to assess your insurance needs.

Find out more about moving your goods in our sections on preparing goods for transport and transporting your goods.