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Column - February 2016

Ports perspective

Over half rail freight volumes emanate from maritime ports and also there is considerable  inland rail freight port traffic so here is a round-up of what has been happening, recently.

GB Railfreight is running biomass trains from the new biomass handling facility at the port of Liverpool which Peel Ports operates for the Drax power station in Yorkshire. Drax has converted three of its six generators to biomass because of its lower carbon dioxide emissions.The biomass terminal includes a rail loading facility with 100,000 tonnes storage capacity. Nearly 50 staff work at the port facility and Rail Freighta further 300 jobs have been created as part of the supply chain process.  GB Railfreight is also now running waste trains from its new North London railfreight terminal at Criklewoodto Calvert in Buckinghamshire. This is in response to demand for removal of more construction waste such as spoil and materials by rail, which is removing 350 lorries from the roads each week.

DB Schenker and PD Ports have launched their first rail freight service from Teesport in Middlesbrough to Mossend and Grangemouth in Scotland which will consist of five container services each week. 

DB Schenker Rail UK’s London Eurohub is the only rail linked facility connected the UK rail network and to HS1 and thus linked to the European rail network. The initial focus is on developing automotive solutions but the site is a multimodal hub capable of servicing both import and export volumes for all market sectors.

London Gateway has good rail and road connections with rail now commanding a third of the traffic out of the port. DB Schenker, which manages the rail terminal there, is now running five different services each week from the port to Trafford Park, Manchester and Wakefield terminal in Yorkshire. DB has integrated its order management system directly with the port’s system thus offering customers access to more efficient, transparent and rapid intermodal freight services across the country.Freightliner also operates two daily services to inland rail terminals from London Gateway to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester Leeds and Coatbridge with an ad-hoc service to Bristol.

In November, Freightliner, the U.K.’s largest rail maritime intermodal operator, celebrated 50 years since the running of its first train which ran from London to Glasgow. It nowoperates around 100 services a day to and from all the major deep sea ports to 13 inland terminals as well as carrying a range of bulk cargoes including waste, cement, aggregates and minerals, potash and coal. Freightliner owns and operates 2 rail freight terminals in Southampton, the UK’s second largest container port, and operates 15 daily services carrying 300,000 containers a year. As a result of the completion of W10 gauge clearance work, rail’s Rail Freightshare of the market out of Southampton, , jumped from 30 to 36% in four months. Clear proof of the value of rail enhancements to UK PLC and society at large.

Direct Rail Services in partnership with Stobart Rail and Tesco won the latest Rail Freight Group environmental innovation award in recognition of the innovative approach to distribution including sending stocks directly to certain Scottish supermarkets from the rail head instead of via the Tesco distribution centre at Livingstone with a resulting reduction of HGV movements. It provides 24 services each week for Tesco from Daventry to a range of destinations including Glasgow, Barking Purfleet, Inverness and Aberdeen. The Inverness and Aberdeen services are examples of rail providing secondary distribution services. The cargoes include standard supermarket goods, such as fresh food, clothes, and alcohol with services full both north and south bound.

Colas Rail, one of the world’s leading providers of rail infrastructure services, has a five year contract to transport bitumen form the Lindsey Oil Refinery to the Total’s UK Preston Production plant.

There are 31 daily rail freight services from Felixstowe port with rail now having almost a third of the market out of Felixstowe, the UK’s largest container port.  However, lack of rail capacity from the port on this key route to the North and at other strategic routes is constraining rail freight growth considerably.

So it is crucial that the Government continues to expand the Strategic Rail Freight Network so rail can satisfy demand and provide low carbon safer freight transportwhich also reduces road congestion and road infrastructure damage.

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