Birch Coppice - the 400 acre business park alongside junction 10 of the M42 - has been chosen for the site of the new Birmingham Intermodal Freight Terminal (BIFT).

The terminal will act as an inland rail head, handling incoming and outgoing containerised freight and the distribution of goods transported by rail from UK ports such as Southampton.

The start of construction work - which will include an additional 1.24 miles of railway sidings - was marked by an onsite ceremony yesterday when Mike O'Brien, North Warwickshire sitting MP and Minister of State for Energy and E-Commerce, cut a tape to open a bridge across railway sidings which provides access to the 35 acre development site.

The multi-million pound investment by Roadways Container Logistics is necessary due to a requirement for a dedicated intermodal container rail freight facility which could not be accommodated on the company's existing site.

Rapid growth in the importation of containerised goods into Britain - especially from Asia and China - has driven the need for RCL to invest in the centrally located Birch Coppice site.

"We chose IM Properties' Birch Coppice development as it is rail connected and ideally located adjacent to junction 10 of the M42," said Graeme Clarke, managing director of Roadways Container Logistics.

"The whole Midlands area is one of the fastest growing distribution regions in the country serving imports from all over the world and this development will provide the infrastructure vital to support this area's continued success."

Regular users of the RCL freight terminal and road distribution services will include major deep sea container shipping companies such as P&O Nedlloyd. The terminal will also be available to local users who have an occasional need to receive or transport containerised goods to and from the region.

IM Properties has invested over £27 million in the former British Coal Birch Coppice Colliery site at Dordon, North Warwickshire, transforming a blot on the landscape into one of the region's largest rail served business and distribution parks.

The company currently owns more than 600 acres alongside the M42 close to Birmingham, including Birch Coppice Business Park and Coleshill Manor Office Campus.

It is expected that new companies relocating to Birch Coppice Business Park in the next 12 months will create more job opportunities than the 1,000 workers originally employed on the site under the former ownership of British Coal.

Mick Jones, IM Properties' director of development, said: "Our £27 million up front regeneration investment at Birch Coppice is now beginning to bring tangible benefits to the local people.

"We are currently in the final stages of negotiation with several inward companies including well known national and international firms."