As supply chains become increasingly global and companies seek greater efficiencies, the importance of good, reliable land-based transport linkages to/from ports increases. This poses particular problems for the UK, with its high dependency on imported goods and congested ports and inland routes. It is conservatively estimated that container volumes through British ports will double over the next 20 years, adding to the existing problems. This paper investigates the potential for rail to become better integrated into port-based container flows, so as to increase its share of this market and contribute to a more sustainable mode split. The paper identifies the trends in container traffic through UK ports, establishes the role of rail within this market, and assesses the opportunities and threats facing rail in the future. The analysis combines published statistics and other information relating to container traffic and original research on the nature of the rail freight market, examining recent trends and future prospects. The paper concludes that this is an important market for rail, with considerable growth potential but to realise this it is important that a number of constraints are overcome, otherwise the long-term prospects for this rail market will be compromised.