Freight customer survey 2012


We attach great importance to the views of freight stakeholders, including freight customers, as we seek to understand the practical implications of policies under development and the regulatory approach that we take.

To further inform our understanding of the freight sector, we carried out a survey of potential and existing freight customers during 2012. This covered the following areas:

  • current modal choice;
  • trends and influencing factors;
  • industry performance; and
  • ORR's role and performance.

AECOM's report setting out the findings of the survey is available.

We have also produced a summary document which outlines the key findings and themes from the survey, and our response to the findings.


The main findings from our freight customer survey are:

  • Respondents' use of rail increased by 38% between 2009 and 2012;
  • Cost/price is the main barrier to modal shift;
  • Service quality/punctuality is improving but cost/price, flexibility and service recovery remain important improvement priorities for customers;
  • Satisfaction with freight industry organisations was at a similar level to the previous survey;
  • Current contact with ORR was low amongst freight customers, with their preferred method in the future being direct engagement with a panel of customers; and
  • 92% of respondents thought that it is very or fairly important to have a choice of rail freight service provider.

We have also set out the findings from one to one interviews with a number of key industry stakeholders to discuss their views and experiences of how the market works, along with the issues identified during a workshop held with freight operators.

We have been using the findings from our research to inform our work, including some specific activities relating to the requirements of freight customers, aimed at improving conditions in the market to facilitate further growth.

Further work

The survey provides a useful indication of the issues that are important to freight customers.

The findings from this survey will also feed into and inform our work going forwards so that we can:

  • measure customer satisfaction in light of developments in rail freight, and assess the extent to which our policies continue to be relevant to those developments; and
  • understand how our regulatory policies and decisions are impacting on the end-user, and respond accordingly.

The key next steps include:

  • establishing a freight customer panel to provide customers with the opportunity to directly input their views into ORR's regulatory policy development and strategy for freight. We will use this to complement our engagement with the industry in the development and implementation of policy;
  • ensuring that freight operators and freight customers are fully engaged and involved from an early stage in the development of the policy framework for the Periodic Review 2018;
  • working with the freight sector to implement our determination of Network Rail's outputs and funding for the Periodic Review 2013;
  • reviewing some areas of our role in approving track access contracts to increase efficiency; and
  • seeking to influence Europe to ensure proposed legislation is practicable and implementation is effective.