News

West Midlands Interchange: consent granted for Strategic Rail Freight Interchange

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).

DC Rail fast-tracks into Leicester

First train into DC Rail's new railhead at Leicester Humberstone Road (photo DC Rail)

First train into DC Rail’s new railhead at Leicester Humberstone Road (photo DC Rail)

Demonstrating yet again that rail freight services don’t always require years of planning, DC Rail‘s launch of services into a reactivated Leicester City Centre railhead. In June last year we were approached by Network Rail to develop layout options for the Humberstone Road side (our 43rd railhead project for the company since 2014 ). Network Rail subsequently agreed to lease the site to rail freight operator DC Rail, who then asked if we could develop the options further, the last plan being produced as late as January this year.

Proof positive of what can be achieved with very basic facilities, industry co-ordination and a bit of help behind the scenes.

Newhaven railhead into final phase

The New Year has seen work on Newhaven’s latest rail freight reinstatement move into the Port itself, with the former quayside sidings being refurbished and extended into Brett Aggregates’ new facility.

Website Rail Record has posted an excellent article on the development which can be viewed here, but in the meantime here’s one of the images showing the new buffer stops in place. Will provide further updates when the first trains roll…

New buffer stops at Newhaven Port (photo courtesy Rail Record)
New buffer stops at Newhaven Port (photo courtesy Rail Record)

 

 

 

SUEZ powers ahead with rail freight

Over the last 4 years our client SUEZ has secured all the rail-based local authority waste contracts in England, including West London, Merseyside and now Manchester. Having had little prior involvement with rail freight services in Britain, the company is now responsible for over 6 train services a day, linking transfer stations with power stations, turning residual waste that would otherwise end up in landfill into heat and power. We’ve been proud to support SUEZ in securing and developing all these contracts.

The Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority (MRWA) has produced a video with SUEZ showing the process in action on the Merseyside contract. The video below includes footage of the rail terminals at Knowsley (Merseyside) and Wilton (Teesside) that we helped design, as well as the connecting rail services that we helped procure.

Thorney Mill: first train arrives into Link Park Heathrow

At 11:30 this morning, GB Railfreight’s Class 66 locomotive 66775 HMS Argyll entered the reinstated railhead at Link Park Heathrow, Thorney Mill in West London, the first since services ceased and the railhead disappeared in 2013.

We were familiar with the Thorney Mill site, having investigated its potential as a railhead for a number of client enquiries over the last decade. In August 2018 we were asked by the site owners, Link Park Heathrow, to explore the feasibility of reinstating the rail sidings on site to create a new facility for handling bulk materials. By this time all trace of the former sidings had gone (see the before and after satellite photos below).

Thorney Mill 2013

Thorney Mill 2019We set to work designing a layout to maximise the length of train which could be stabled in the proposed railhead site boundary, developing a draft Method of Work statement covering the operation of trains on and off site.

LPH plan

We procured the contract to undertake the trackworks on site, contractor KGJ Price undertaking the works during some unseasonably good weather in January and February 2019. Like an archaeological dig, the former sidings were retrieved from beneath a layer of compacted fill, the trackwork lifted and relaid to the new layout, with replacement sleepers and rails as required.

IMG_0373

With the works complete, one of Link Park Heathrow’s occupiers, Ashville Aggregates, commenced discussions with the rail freight industry regarding the importation of aggregates by rail into the site. From this, rail freight operator GB Railfreight offered to carry out a test run to and from the main line across the new sidings, culminating in this morning’s successful operation.

For further enquiries contact:
Ashville Aggregates: 020 7736 0355
Link Park Heathrow: 020 7824 9260

UPDATE: the first loaded train arrived into site on 16th July, the second fully-loaded train arrived today (18th July)

CEMEX: first train arrives into Luton

Cemex luton

Today the first DB Cargo train arrived into CEMEX’ new railhead at Luton. We were initially asked in March 2018 to produce an outline design to assist the contractor Pearsons Engineering, but this soon expanded in scope to cover the entire design approval process with Network Rail. Working with all the parties, we brought in Trust Rail Solutions to produce a topographic survey of the site and a series of detailed drawings and supporting documentation. Works were undertaken during early 2019, the new railhead now operational and receiving aggregates. Job done!

Lowestoft: new freight sidings take shape

IMT J0188.34 Lowestoft D2.2

Lowestoft2

Lowestoft1

In May 2018 we were asked by Network Rail to produce an outline design for a rail freight facility at Lowestoft (our 34th railhead design project with Network Rail), to be constructed as part of a proposed remodelling and resignalling of the wider trackwork in and around the station. A number of designs were produced between May and December 2018, with the works starting on site this year (photos posted by Tim Miller @banditman59uk).

Another example of joined-up thinking by Network Rail, ensuring rail freight access to the Lowestoft area is retained against future traffic opportunities.