A £7.75 million funding package to re-open an abandoned railway track and create a rail freight terminal in Telford has been completed following funding by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.
The Donnington Railfreight Terminal will be completed by the end of the year and is expected to be operational next spring. AWM is supplying £770,000 with the remaining investment from Telford & Wrekin Council and the European Regional Development Fund. English Partnerships is involved in the development of sites next to the terminal.
The project is key to the Transforming Telford scheme, designed to stimulate regeneration of the town.
In addition to the reopening of 2.5 miles of track from an existing spur off the main Shrewsbury-Wolverhampton line near Wellington – closed since 1991 – works will involve the construction of a rail freight terminal next to Hortonwood Industrial Estate in Donnington. This will be capable of handling all types of freight including containers, palletised and bulk goods.
The terminal will handle four trains a day for 357 days a year. The scheme will create more than 250 jobs and reclaim 14 hectares of brownfield land.
Airdrie-based John G Russell (Transport) will operate the terminal under contract with the council and the line will complete a triangle of freight movements linking central Scotland, South Wales – via the western side of the West Midlands – and south and south-east coastal ports.
AWM chairman Nick Paul said: “Transport is one of the key priorities of the West Midlands Economic Strategy and this investment by Advantage West Midlands will have a positive impact on the region’s transport network.
“Not only will this mean companies in and around Telford will be less dependant on road freight transport to move goods, but will also crucially help local, high-technology led companies to maintain a competitive edge with a greener and more efficient logistics solution.”He added that the rising cost of fuel and congestion meant rail freight was becoming more recognised as a viable means of hauling goods and there was a real need for this kind of facility in the west of the region.
“Who would have thought 20 years ago as terminals such as this were being closed down, redeveloped or mothballed because of changing trends towards road freight that we would one day be looking to rail once again as a way forward?” asked Mr Paul.
He said it was important that agencies were able to react on behalf of business and ensure that major infrastructure projects could be put in place when necessary.
Peter Roach, chairman of Transforming Telford, said: “This is great news for Telford.
“The Donnington Rail Freight Terminal will have a tremendous impact on the town’s economy whilst complementing and supporting our economic development portfolio.
“The scheme will open up opportunities for new business as well as existing companies and will encourage employment growth.”