Today saw the Development Consent Order (DCO) granted by Government for a new Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) at Four Ashes in Staffordshire. The West Midlands Interchange (WMI) will add to the small number of existing SRFI already in operation, further expanding the network of rail-served sites available to distribution companies and their customers.
West Midlands Interchange is being promoted by Four Ashes Limited – a consortium led by Kilbride Holdings, working in partnership with international property group Grosvenor Group and majority landowner Piers Monckton. The Kilbride Holdings team has developed rail-based projects for Jaguar Land Rover in Halewood and Castle Bromwich, and Honda as well as a number of infrastructure-led developments in the UK.
Intermodality’s involvement with the project dates back to 2006, building on our long working relationship with Kilbride as one of our first clients. Over the last 14 years we have helped to design the rail-related elements of the WMI project, provided input to the various rounds of community and industry consultations, as well as the draft DCO submission itself, and the subsequent Panel Hearings by the Planning Inspectorate.
Given the paucity of rail-served warehousing in Great Britain compared to mainland Europe, the announcement is another welcome step towards creating a network of sites across the country, linking SRFI with major ports, mainland Europe and other RFI. Every single SRFI built and opened to date has since delivered on its core objective – creating new rail freight services by improving rail access to occupiers and the surrounding hinterland.
With the current lockdown set to dramatically change future shopping and supply chains, developments such as WMI will be at the forefront of helping society and business adapt to the “new normal”. Rail freight is anticipated to play a much greater role going forward, as much in delivering goods from the quayside to national distribution centres, as in onward secondary distribution out to the regions, across an expanding range of intermodal, conventional and express rail freight services.
To date we have helped SRFI at Radlett, iPort and now WMI secure planning consent as the first stage towards implementation, helped with expansion of other SRFI at Mersey Multimodal Gateway and DIRFT phase II (Sainsbury’s), and are now working on a pipeline of further future SRFI prospects across the country. Since 2002 we have also helped create or reactivate RFI at Severnside, Knowsley and Wilton (SUEZ), Castle Donington (M&S), Gascoigne Wood (Harworth), Lowestoft (Network Rail), Leicester (DC Rail), Luton (Cemex), Newhaven (Brett / Newhaven Port & Properties), Sheffield (Helios) and Thorney Mill (Link Park Heathrow).