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FTA guide puts spotlight on bulk rail freight

Performance management is essential for bulk rail shippers and a new guide by leading trade body the Freight Transport Association (FTA) will advise shippers how to optimise their use of bulk rail freight. Managing Rail Freight – Operational Performance for Bulk Shippers (The Guide) will provide best practice advice on this vital, but often taken for granted, mode of transport.

Large volumes of steel, coal or aggregates simply cannot be moved by road efficiently, so managing operational performance of trainload bulk flows is business critical. The Guide gives advice – based on FTA member feedback – that will enhance performance information flow, performance information analysis and allow for effective performance review.

Chris MacRae, FTA’s Rail Freight and Global Supply Chain Manager, said:

"Bulk rail shippers are very much dependent on good service from their Rail Freight Operating Company (FOCs) and it is crucial to their performance that the dialogue between them is both clear and open. The Guide will explain how a relationship between the shipper and operator, and also Network Rail as the infrastructure manager, can be employed to maximum benefit."

The Guide will provide bulk shippers, who are heavily reliant on rail, with pointers on how to establish key performance indicators, such as train arrival times and train cancellations, to address any contractual concerns, which may be directed at either the FOC, a third-party (e.g. Network Rail) or the shipper themselves or indeed their end customer. This is important if the shipper is to improve performance and achieve a swift resolution.

MacRae concluded:

"We want to empower shippers with the means to improve the way they operate; part of this will involve taking responsibility for information capture and collation, rather than relying on others."

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