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Network Rail has earmarked £206 million for strategic rail freight network developments between next year and 2019.

Set out in its ‘Strategic Business Plan 2014-19’, the body said that its aim is to encourage UK freight firms to use road transport less and rail freight more.

Indeed, it has set itself a target of removing more than one million lorry journeys from the country’s roads each year, while increasing rail freight tonnage by 22 per cent.

Network Rail said that the funds will be used to identify and correct potential areas of improvement in England and Wales. It also feels that strategic plan will help to stimulate economic growth and provide significant environmental benefits.

The body also revealed that since privatisation, the rail freight sector has grown by 62 per cent.

The announcement comes in the same week that Network Rail unveiled plans to provide 170,000 extra seats to commuters on normal trains in the same timescale.