Freight train trial on the Cambrian line is a runaway success
The test run of a freight train trial in mid-Wales could signal a cleaner, greener transport opportunity to take hundreds of large lorries off rural roads.
For the first time since 2005 Welsh timber left Aberystwyth by rail, carrying with it hopes of regular freight traffic returning to the Cambrian line.
The pilot run which has been hailed as a success was part of a feasibility exploration into the transportation of timber by rail in a bid to cut carbon emissions.
At the end of last month, timber from the forests of Ceredigion and Powys was carried via a Colas Rail freight service at Aberystwyth to the north Wales Kronospan manufacturing plant in Chirk.
Kronospan manufactures and distributes timber products like wood panelling for furniture and flooring and plays a key role in the timber supply chain.
Pulled by a pair of Network Rail Class 97 locomotives, ten wagons of unfinished timber left Aberystwyth on the 29 April as part of a partnership with the freight operator Colas Rail.
The Class 97s were specially selected to haul the 700-tonne load over the steep gradients of parts of the line.
The load moved equates to 16 lorry loads which would no longer need to use the rural cross-country roads, and it is hoped that moving such large amounts of timber by rail would both reduce carbon emissions and ease traffic congestion.
According to estimations quoted by RailAdvent, a quarter tonne of carbon dioxide was saved by using the railway for this purpose, which is the equivalent of 30,411 charges of a smartphone or the carbon emissions for each passenger on a one-way flight from Amsterdam to Rome.
The last scheduled freight over the line was in 1993. In 2003, freight multiple unit trials were undertaken for a period of five weeks, transporting timber from Aberystwyth, to the Kronospan factory.
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