Welsh freight transport has seen a modal shift as North Welsh slate is being transported to Luton via rail, seeing a projected total of 250,000t of the material moved annually.
This ambitious project has come from a partnership between Network Rail, the Welsh Government and Breedon Group, a construction materials company. Funding was secured through a matched effort from both Breedon and the Government, which afforded the reopening of Llandudno Junction freight yard through extensive vegetation management, track repairs and a defective crossing replacement, to kickstart the initiative.
The first freight train to leave Llandudno Junction freight yard departed in July, carrying 22 wagons filled with slate aggregate from local quarries for the journey to Luton in south-east England. This comes as part of a major Welsh rail freight resurgence, seeing a recent reintroduction of timber freight haulage back into Wales with services going between North and South Wales, as well as Devon to South Wales, for the first time in more than 10 years.
The benefits of freight supersedes the simple transportation of supplies and goods across Britain. As the UK strives to achieve carbon net-zero, the modal shift to rail freight haulage will have a major contribution towards decarbonisation across the UK, as each train singlehandedly removes approximately 76 lorries from the roads.
These environmental benefits are accompanied by the huge economic bonuses, with £30bn worth of goods transported annually. The expansion of this modal network shift will provide mass employment and opportunities for local businesses to sustain economic growth.
Network Rail senior regional freight manager Jess Lippett said:
“Rail freight is a vital part of our infrastructure, providing a fast, green, safe, and efficient way of transporting goods.
“We’ve worked closely with our partners at Breedon and in Welsh government to get Llandudno Junction open for business, ensuring that we can carry slate aggregates by rail and therefore reducing the number of lorries on the road and cutting carbon emissions.
“The recent slate loading represents the second revenue-earning freight flow to commence on the North Wales coast-line in recent months - showing how we can work together to have a positive impact on the environment and the economy.”
Network Rail are working to enable more freight traffic in Wales and are currently supporting the proposals for the new log traffic flow at Aberystwyth, mid Wales, and stone traffic from Rhyl sidings, North Wales. We will provide a large section of our maintenance yards to facilitate future freight schemes.
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