Rail freight

23.10.15

VTG Rail and Mendip Rail sign 130 freight aggregate wagons deal

Wagon hire and rail logistics firm VTG Rail UK has signed an agreement with independent freight operator Mendip Rail to hire out 130 new aggregate wagons.

A mixture of hoppers and boxes, they will be used to move stone from the Aggregate Industries and Hanson ‘super-quarries’ in Somerset to several destinations – many in London and the south east.

The delivery of the wagons is expected to start in summer 2016.

VTG’s sales and marketing director, Ian Shaw, explained that demand for aggregate wagons is at a high, and that the company’s aggregate wagon fleets are currently “fully utilised”.

“There is plenty of evidence suggesting continued growth in the demand for the movement of construction materials by rail.

“The latest ORR [Office of Rail and Road] figures show that movement by rail rising from 0.97 to 1.04 billion net tonne kilometres. That’s a jump of 7.1% compared to the same period in 2014 and there is little, if any, spare wagon capacity available to meet the sector’s needs.

“The state-of-the-art vehicles, with their improved speed of operation, track-friendly bogies and class-leading payload efficiencies, will bring numerous advantages for an important customer of VTG,” Shaw added.

He also noted that the growing number of major construction projects, on top of traditional traffic, presented interesting challenges for the rail freight sector.

“Clearly, the construction market is currently enjoying a welcome period of growth, with housing and other markets on the up, as well as some major infrastructure projects on the horizon – for example, HS2, Crossrail 2, Hinckley Point C, Thames Tideway and so forth.

“Increasingly, these major projects specify the use of rail to transport materials and spoil during the construction phase, which is clearly the right thing to do and is beneficial to ‘UK Plc’ in numerous ways – carbon emissions, road safety and traffic congestion, just to name a few,” Shaw said.

But he said that these major projects are intermittent by nature and, compared to the economic life of a rail freight wagon, are of relatively short duration.

“The task therefore is to give the private sector the confidence to invest in these assets on the basis that they will be needed, not just in the short-term, but the medium and long-term as well,” he finished.

And Mendip Rail’s managing director, Jason Black, said he was pleased that the supplier challenged “conventional rail industry practices in order to win the tender”.

He continued: “The placement of such a large order is an indication of the optimism shown by both Aggregate Industries and Hanson in the continued growth from their current and future rail supplied depots, coupled with their strive to further reduce road haulage miles.”

Mendip Rail is a joint venture company formed between Aggregate Industries and Hanson.

(Top image shows Mendip Rail's 59103 in Minehead, Somerset c. Geof Sheppard)

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