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Is Rail Central ‘encouraged by Network Rail’?

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Rail Central, a ‘rail-connected freight terminal’ proposed by Ashfield Land and sited near the West Coast Main Line between Milton Malsor and Blisworth, could be ‘a base for high speed freight trains formed of converted Intercity 125 HSTs’, according to a Railnews report. The developers are hoping to have Rail Central “operational by 2019 or 2020”.

[Strategic railfreight interchange debate ignites, Railnews, 2 June 2016]

Rail Central’s Nick Gallop told Railnews it was the developer’s intention to connect with the up and down lines on both the loop and the main line, which would open the door to express freight trains consisting of converted Intercity 125 sets. Mr Gallop said that he was in discussion with Porterbrook on the potential costs.

When asked what Network Rail and franchisees would think of Rail Central, Mr Gallop said: “Rail Central is being encouraged by Network Rail to develop these proposals and more detail will follow. Ashfield Land could pay for the route enhancements over and above their requirements in exchange for a Track Access Agreement guaranteeing them paths for Rail Central’s customers.”

Is Network Rail really ‘encouraging’ this crazy scheme? Rail Central is the type of project which might arise on the West Coast Main Line as a result of HS2 being built. In HS2 phase one, the West Coast Fast lines south of Rugby would see reduced numbers of passenger trains (but the Northampton loop might see more).

The idea of there being a market for Intercity 125 sets converted to “express freight trains” sounds highly improbable. And according to the local Stop Rail Central Action Group, the developers are circumventing local planning laws by labelling the scheme as a Nationally Strategic Infrastructure Project “when in reality it is just another logistics park with some limited capability to accept rail freight”.

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Written by beleben

June 2, 2016 at 10:54 am

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