A disused line between Newton Abbot and Heathfield has been brought back to use to enable freight to be moved from Teignbridge in Devon to Chirk in North Wales.
Colas Rail Freight is to move the products from Kronospan, which manufactures chipboard, along the four mile track under a three-year contract between both companies.
It is operating a weekly service. Each freight train will consist of 14 wagons, carrying around 600 tonnes of timber. This will potentially remove around 24 lorries from the roads.
Colas worked with Network Rail and Devon County Council to reopen the track. Simon Ball, head of freight, said: “The branch has not seen a train for many years and needed to be capable of taking freight trains again. We arranged for it to be checked, cleared and then prepared for service with road access. The vegetation in the old goods yard was cut back and, after levelling, firm standing was created by rolling into the ground hundreds of tonnes of material.”
Patrick Hallgate, route managing director for Network Rail Western said: “For businesses, rail freight can offer a cheaper, quicker and more practical alternative to moving goods by road. Almost £700m of social and environment benefits each year can be attributed to freight traffic on Britain’s railways.”