British manufacturing in buoyant demand for steel

Source: RTM June/July 2018

Roger Neary, head of logistics sales at DB Cargo UK, discusses the rail freight company’s £6m expansion of its steel warehousing facilities in Wolverhampton, which will provide a major boost to British manufacturing.

Over the past 12 months, DB Cargo UK has gone through a significant programme of restructuring and modernisation to adapt to recent changes in our core markets and ensure we remain competitive in the future. We’re the biggest provider of rail freight here in the UK and we intend to maintain our market-leading position, despite the many challenges the industry is facing.

Over the past few years, we have introduced a more efficient operating model and have invested in new systems and technology to streamline our processes and deliver a more reliable and resilient service. We’ve emerged a more efficient and effective organisation in a much better position to meet the increasing expectations of our customers.

One of those customers is the world’s largest steel manufacturer, ArcelorMittal, who will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of our latest investment. DB Cargo UK has recently taken over the handling of ArcelorMittal’s West Midlands logistics chain. The company imports steel from Europe via the ports of Immingham, Hull, Goole, and Boston in Lincolnshire.

The steel is transported by rail to our terminal on Lower Walsall Street in Horseley Fields, where it is unloaded before being transferred onto the road network for delivery to customers across the West Midlands.

There is a buoyant demand for steel from engineering and manufacturing firms in the area and we are delighted to be in a position to help meet this demand. The gradual reduction in steel production in the UK has led to increasing demand for imported supplies from Europe.

Our new centre will have a storage capacity for 40,000 tonnes of steel, or 3,325 coils. At present, Wolverhampton only has capacity for storing 1,380 steel coils, so the increase in capacity is massive. When complete, we will be offering some 11,800m2 of covered space for the storage of strip steel coil, with 3,300 variable floor-level locations for different-sized coils.

The central location of our steel logistics centre means that our customers will be able to significantly reduce their carbon footprint. Moving the heavy steel coils by rail for the majority of their journey is more environmentally-friendly than transporting them by heavy goods vehicles and will significantly reduce traffic congestion on the roads, as each train can carry as much material as around 76 lorries.

At the end of September 2017, DB Cargo UK ran a trial train of 20 loaded specialist covered wagons from the port of Boston on the east coast to Wolverhampton, a journey of around 200km. This train now runs once a week and we are aiming to run this service three or four times a week once the new centre is open.

There is now plenty of activity taking place on the site, with the construction of the main warehouse taking shape from March 2018 and due for completion by the autumn. We first opened our facilities in Wolverhampton in 1969 when the city was at the centre of steel and iron production in the UK. Now, over 50 years later, the industry has changed massively – but the site is still of huge strategic importance.

Building the new centre will expand our capabilities and the number of rail services we can provide, offering our customers a fast, efficient, reliable and eco-friendly way to transport their steel. Three additional new jobs will also be created when the centre opens, taking our local workforce to 18.

It’s an incredibly exciting time for DB Cargo UK and will provide us with a facility that will serve the region for many more decades to come.


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