SRA to speed up rail freight development

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The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) is to consult with government planning and transport officials in order to improve the planning process for developing major rail freight interchanges. There are proposals to create at least 40 rail freight interchanges nationwide, equating to £2.5Bn of investment into the rail network.

Jeff Miles, head of freight market development at the SRA, says industry confidence “was shaken” last year when planning permission was refused for a proposed rail freight interchange at Colnbrook, west London. The London International Freight Exchange (LIFE) would have been adjacent to the M25 and M4 motorways, the Great Western Main Line and Heathrow Airport.

He says the SRA had reviewed the reasons for the refusal and would now consult with the ODPM and Department for Transport (DfT).

l Operating capacity has virtually doubled to 65,000 container lifts a year at Hams Hall (pictured) following ABP Connect’s £1.6M expansion programme at the West Midlands terminal in Birmingham. The expansion comprised an extra 550m of rail siding, improved railcar access facilities, 6,500sq m of block-paving for extra container storage space and the acquisition of three new reach-stackers.

l The creation of a dedicated rail freight terminal at Telford has moved a step closer now that the rail line which ran from Wellington to Donnington is being reinstated. The project has been put together by the Borough of Telford & Wrekin, the Ministry of Defence and English Partnerships. Once operational, the terminal is expected to handle about 200-250,000 tonnes of freight a year, and will have the ability to expand to around 750,000 tonnes per year.

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