Great British Railways: Intermodality supports freight market development plan

December 2022 saw the publication of Great British Railways Transition Team’s “Market Development Plan: GBR actions and activities to grow rail freight.” The report highlights several areas where Intermodality has been commissioned to assist the nascent “guiding mind” for the rail industry with the development of the rail freight sector.

The report’s title page shows the reinstated railhead at Newhaven Port, which we helped design and develop with Network Rail, Bretts and Newhaven Port & Property. Material produced by Intermodality for GBR, as noted in the report, has included an assessment of the shortfall between regions of Intermodal Rail Freight Interchanges (IRFI). These are standalone railheads designed to provide rail access in areas not otherwise served by the larger Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges (SRFI). Intermodality has spent much of the last 21 years providing support to development of SRFI at Radlett, iPort Doncaster, East Midlands Gateway, West Midlands Interchange, Oxfordshire SRFI and most recently helping secure the allocation of the Parkside East SRFI within the St Helens Local Plan. We have also helped with the design and delivery of IRFI now operating at Severnside, Knowsley and Wilton (SUEZ) and at Tinsley (MLP for Newell & Wright Group).

We have also produced a report for a combined Network Rail / GBR team on the role that the Major Stations portfolio could once again provide, within the re-emerging market for express freight and urban logistics, another area of specialism and development by Intermodality over the past two decades, from working with EWS on its original award-winning trainload services, to organising proof-of-concept services into London’s Euston station for Eddie Stobart and Sainsburys, and in turn for TNT/Fedex (the latter funded by us). We have since worked with HS1 and Eurotunnel to assess the opportunities for cross-Channel services, with GB Railfreight, rolling stock leasing companies and a major retailer prospect on domestic services, as well as with property developers and Network Rail looking to create purpose-built distribution centres and urban cross-dock facilities. Last but by no means least, we have provided Board-level support to another award-winning start-up, ICRF’s unique 125mph parcels-on-passenger train service, which launched back in 2011 and now spans multiple modes of transport and service providers, exploiting unused space on scheduled services to move time-sensitive shipments across the network – Red Star reimagined for the 21st Century.

Further support has been provided to GBR on development of site layouts for IRFI across the country in areas where provision is lacking, the GBR report citing one of Intermodality’s plans produced for an IRFI at Exeter to serve the South West region of the UK.

As Intermodality enters our 21st anniversary year, we are proud to continue our track record of supporting growth of sustainable transport (now covering both freight and passenger sectors) through public policy and commercial investment. We will be showcasing 21 years of achievements throughout the course of 2023, so keep in touch for further updates.

Lowestoft goes live

This week marked the start of operations from another railhead in our portfolio. Working with Network Rail on initial design work in 2018, construction started on site in 2019, leading up to the first train of imported aggregates leaving Lowestoft bound for Longport, to help address the growing demand for construction materials.

This adds to the ever-expanding list of railheads we’ve helped along the way to fully-operational status, which in recent years has included:

  • Liverpool Tuebrook Sidings (GB Railfreight / Hanson 2021)
  • Sheffield Tinsley (Newell and Wright / MLP 2021)
  • Newhaven (Brett / Newhaven Port / Network Rail 2020)
  • Leicester Humberstone Road (DC Rail 2020)
  • Thorney Mill (Link Park Heathrow / Ashville Aggregates 2019)
  • Luton (Cemex / Network Rail 2019)
  • iPort Doncaster (iPort Rail / Verdion 2018)

We look forward to helping many more on their way in the years to come.

From iPort to Newhaven Port: triple-whammy for clients at Rail Freight Group Awards 2020

Yesterday’s prestigious “virtual” RFG Awards (of which we were a proud recipient in 2011) delivered three industry “gongs” for four of our clients, two of which involved projects which we’ve been heavily involved with.

iPort Rail, operators of the iPort Doncaster Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) which we helped plan and secure consent for developer Verdion, have taken a brand new terminal with no pre-existing customers and, in less than 2 years, grown the business to more than 6 trains per day – the fastest launch of a SRFI to date. No surprise therefore that Steve Freeman and his team at iPort Rail scooped the Business of the Year Award.

At the other end of the country, in what was otherwise a backwater for rail freight, Network Rail and Brett Aggregates secured the Rail Freight Project of the Year for the reinstatement of the derelict railhead on the quayside at Newhaven in East Sussex. For our part in helping the project from inception with Newhaven Port & Properties, through to working on the design with Network Rail and, in turn, assisting Bretts with design and contractor procurement, this was a well-deserved winner – on which you can find out more below in earlier posts.

Not to be outdone, client DC Rail and partner VTG also collected an award for Rail Freight Project of the Year for movement of recycled materials. Intermodality has provided support to DC Rail in the opening up of new railheads at Willesden and Leicester.

Our congratulations to all four of our clients, and thanks in turn to the RFG judges for selecting these projects.

Newhaven: new railhead goes live

Network Rail today reported the first train into the reactivated railhead at Newhaven, the culmination of an 9-year journey with Newhaven Port & Properties (feasibility study in 2011), Network Rail (initial design input) and finally with Brett Aggregates (final design and contractor procurement).


Suffice to say we’re delighted to have helped yet another railhead return to life, with the road network from the Sussex Coast up to West London relieved of up to 80 lorry loads in each direction, and the emissions generated by moving the material reduced by over three-quarters compared to movement by road.

Intermodality would like to congratulate the team from the Port, Network Rail, Bretts and contractors KGJ Price for making this happen, the new railhead being only a stone’s throw (sorry) from our registered office.

Photos courtesy Network Rail

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 took a matter of weeks. 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.


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

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!