Event recording: Rail freight in Wales

There are many opportunities for the rail freight sector to be involved in the new Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) being established on the Nant Helen site in South Wales, according to Chief Executive Simon Jones.

He explained at the RFG webinar ‘Rail freight in Wales” that the new site, to be fully operational by mid 2025, would have two test loops – one 7km long to test rolling stock and another 4.5 km long to test rail infrastructure.

This facility will give freight customers the chance to validate increased axle loads as well demonstrating what impact higher speed limits for heavier wagons would have. He added that rail would also be the best method to transport construction material to the site.

GCRE is a Welsh Government economic delivery project but it is seeking private sector investment and participation to drive the project forward.

Simon Brown, Port Manager, ABP Wales outlined ABP’s long-term vision for developing its five Welsh ports – with the zero carbon challenge and creating skilled jobs as the top priorities.

He said ABP is working with all stakeholders on radical, complex, multi-partner, multi-year and sometimes contentious projects. Decarbonising logistics is one of the top four priorities.

Jess Lippitt, Network Rail, Senior Route Freight Manager, said South Wales has always been the hub of rail freight activity in Wales but that there are signs of growing interest in North Wales as well, where several new flows are starting. Overall, construction materials, steel and petroleum are the main commodities, but Network Rail is keen to encourage other flows including timber, express freight and logistics and more intermodal traffic.