This paper reports on ongoing research into the potential for rail freight service developments to achieve a significant modal shift away from road towards more sustainable modes of transport for freight movements. It is based on the analysis of comprehensive databases of rail freight flows in Great Britain in 1991 and 1997, a period in which there has been dramatic upheaval of rail freight services. This reveals that traffic volumes in early 1997 were still below those in early 1991, but that many new flows were beginning to manifest themselves as a result of traffic gains by the newly privatized operators who have been actively seeking new custom. Some of these flows are ones that were lost from rail during the period of decline, but it is clear that a significant volume of traffic gained is entirely new to rail. Finally, the need for more research on the interactions between these supply-side developments and logistical restructuring is highlighted
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