Event review – Do we need more rail-linked warehousing?

SRFIs (Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges) are a very significant success story, Peter Frost, managing director, Kilbride Group, told attendees at a recent RFG webinar. Co-locating warehousing with rail facilities is proving to be a good model for users, and for growing rail freight.

Recent research shows that the level of demand for ‘big sheds’ (large warehouses) is high and increasing, and those built on rail-linked sites are seen as a particularly good investment, producing record levels of yield.

He said that research showed that every new house creates the demand for an extra 69 sq ft of warehousing in order to service the inhabitants of that house in terms of both internet and general retail sales.

SRFIs are defined as locations with 5-8m sq ft of warehousing with a large intermodal terminal at their core. They are expected to generate 10 – 15 new freight trains a day within ten years, with newly opened sites already ahead of trajectory to meet this.

David Mellor, Director, Project Management, Prologis, talked about the work that the company is doing at DIRFT (Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal) which it took over in 2006, eleven years after it opened.

It developed warehouses with dedicated rail terminals for Tesco, then Sainsbury’s and Eddie Stobart, as well as a multi-user facility and is now working on DIRFT 3, with a Royal Mail warehouse under construction.

He said DIRFT 3 will have 7.8m sq ft of industrial B8 development, 800m sidings to handle longer trains, handling up to 32 trains per day and 500,000 container per year.  He highlighted the benefits that tenants see from being in rail linked warehousing including sustainability, reliability and accessibility.

Guy Bates, head of freight development, Network Rail, said NR sees SRFIs as absolutely necessary for modal shift but noted that there needs to be alignment between the necessary rail network capacity and the development of new sites.

Nick Gallop of Intermodality said that even if all the SRFIs , including those which exist through to those that are still in the very early planning stages, were added up, they still cover only 15% of the market for big sheds in the UK. But there is a good environment for rail at the moment and so we should all seize the chance to push for rail to be higher on the agenda when warehousing is planned.

To watch the webinar click here.