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Port Salford

Site area – 150 acres, intermodal terminal 40 acres.

Location – adjacent to MSC at Barton Locks, having road/rail/water links.

Rail-connected warehouses to main Liverpool/Manchester line.

Capability to accommodate full length 775m freight trains

Capability to handle four trains and two ships simultaneously.

Capable of handling container ships up to a maximum 500 TEUs.

Storage capacity – 10,000 TEUs, annual throughput 300,000 TEUs.

Site to be equipped with overhead cranes servicing trains and ships.

Rail served buildings – 2 x 50,000sq m, 1 x 30,000sq m, 1x 24,500sq m.

Trains – anticipated 16 per day when site fully operational.

Potential employment – 2,000 jobs.

Trafford Interchange

Site area – 400 acres.

Location – Carrington, south-west of Manchester, near to the MSC, having road/rail links.

Rail-connected warehouses to dedicated branch freight line.

Capability to accommodate full length 775m freight trains.

Potential new road to M60 motorway, opening up brownfield land.

Possible new road bridge over MSC.

Potential expansion modal links to MSC and Manchester Airport.

Rail served buildings – 12 units of between 8,000 to 60,000sq m, possible 100,000sq m units.

Trains – anticipated 72 per week when site fully operational.

Potential employment – 5,000 jobs.

Planning status – to be ratified in Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council’s UDP 2004.

Salford and Trafford Councils.

Furthermore, the SRA points out that the country will require Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges on a scale which allows a range of different on-site rail activities to be undertaken, including intermodal (container) handling and also accommodate large scale warehousing, processing or manufacturing facilities. Port Salford and Trafford Interchange meet the SRA’s criteria to facilitate the development of a network of commercially viable rail freight interchanges with the right facilities and appropriate locations to support rail freight growth. These are considered vital in developing the national rail freight network, linking ports and the Channel Tunnel, while ensuring the logistic industry is properly connected to the infrastructure necessary for business growth.

With regard to the developers, Peel and Burford, what they have in common is agreement that industry in the future must be provided with alternative transport and modern logistics infrastructure. This is considered essential if the regional economy is to grow and prosper in the enlarged EU. However, what is interesting about the proposed sites is the differing business philosophies of both developers. While there is consensus on the issues of congestion, environmental impact and the need for modal shift there is a difference in approach towards a solution.

The developers fully support the Government’s and regional authorities’ policy and aspirations on sustainable distribution but they differ as to how this can be best achieved. They have a different perspective as to where the market is going, the modal shift required or industry needs to be served. Peel’s main focus at Port Salford is on water freight facilities, containers and smaller unit rail-connected warehousing. In contrast, Burford is focusing on large-scale rail-connected warehousing, with provision for manufacturing, light industry and logistics users.

Investment catalyst

Irrespective of business philosophy, it is increasingly the case that a holistic view is being taken concerning both proposed developments. They are not seen as alternative schemes, but complementary with differing functions generating synergy, and both acting as a catalyst for attracting further major investment, development and employment to the region. As such, it is accepted that there are only two sites that potentially meet the criteria for the SRA’s policy for Strategic Rail Freight Interchange in Greater Manchester, namely Port Salford and Trafford Interchange.

Furthermore, there is growing consensus that several strategic rail freight interchanges are needed to enable the use of rail freight in the North-west to grow in line with potential demand and to achieve the Government’s targets of sustainable distribution. Additionally, form part of a European network of rail served interchanges contributing towards the achievement of more sustainable patterns of freight transport.

The Government’s strategy is to bring new freight interchanges online by 2007 to help deliver the logistics modal shift. Delays in promoting new schemes would seriously undermine the delivery of the national strategy. Unfortunately, the long lead-time involved in such schemes means that the decisions to incorporate strategic freight interchanges into development plans, and to grant planning permission need to be taken within an acceptable time-frame if the intermodal capacity is to come on stream for end users by 2007.

This is the major hurdle to be confronted. No doubt in coming months the industry will be keenly watching if Port Salford and Trafford Interchange are successful in overcoming this hurdle.

Frank Worsford works in the transport studies group at the University of Westminster.

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