That's the key finding of analysis sponsored by the Rail Delivery Group and carried out by KPMG. The RDG includes representatives of all the franchise owning companies as well as freight operators and Network Rail.
The report goes on to say that a further £500m a year of economic, environmental and social benefits come from rail freight because it reduces the number of lorries, avoiding more than 7.6 million road journeys last year.
The rail freight sector has been achieving growth in several areas, although some industry leaders are calling for further network improvements, including more electrification.
The report says rail freight "is now vital to Britainís economic competitiveness. It transports over £30bn worth of goods a year from supermarket groceries and premium whiskies to over half the fuel delivered to power stations to generate electricity.
"Railfreight also helps ensure British manufacturing can compete globally by sending products on the first leg of their global journey, connecting factories with container ports."