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Crossrail freight link to Northfleet opened

The new £13.5m freight link between the North Kent Line and Northfleet has been officially opened by Bob Neill, the minister with responsibility for the Thames Gateway.

The link will be used to transport excavated material from the construction of Crossrail’s tunnels inLondonto a new nature reserve atWallaseaIslandinEssex. The material will be transferred to ship for the final part of this journey at the former Lafarge Cement Works at Northfleet.

The line includes 4.75km of new track and at the peak of tunnelling, up to five freight trains a day will be operated by GB Railfreight.

Neill said: “Infrastructure such as this is essential in allowing businesses to move goods and will help propel growth in this area. This project is now going to provide support for the building of Crossrail, proving that the Thames Gateway is well and truly open for business.”

David Simms, land and planning director for Lafarge Cement said: “Crossrail's involvement in Northfleet has been a major catalyst in enabling the construction of this new freight line which will play a leading role in transporting excavated material from the new tunnels.

“When Crossrail tunnelling completes, we intend to construct a new Aggregates Terminal which could export up to 1.2m tonnes by rail per year when it is fully operational. It is hoped that this sustainable form of freight transport could facilitate further jobs and development innorth westKent.”

Chris Dulake, Crossrail’s chief engineer said: “Transporting excavated material by train will remove at least 50,000 lorry journeys from centralLondonas well as ensuring its use for environmental improvement including a major new RSPB nature reserve inEssex.” 

Jorge Mendonça, Network Rail’s Crossrail programme director, said: “Rail freight is predicted to grow by as much as 140% over the next 30 years. It is important to ensure that rail freight plays its part in supporting economic recovery and long-term sustainable growth.” 

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