North Wales slate transported by Network Rail for the first time ever
Welsh slate is being transported by rail from Llandudno Junction to Luton for the first time ever, thanks to a joint initiative between Network Rail, construction materials company Breedon, and the Welsh Government.
The first freight train to leave Llandudno Junction freight yard departed in July, carrying 22 wagons filled with slate aggregate from local quarries.
The Welsh Government has provided match funding to Breedon Group for the enhancements at Llandudno Junction freight sidings via the Freight Facilities Grant scheme.
It is expected that 250,000 tonnes of slate aggregate will be moved from this freight yard each year.
Network Rail had to carry out track renewals and even replace a defective crossing – which allows trains to move to different sections of track – following testing.
Jess Lippett, senior regional freight manager at Network Rail said: “Rail freight is a vital part of our infrastructure, providing a fast, green, safe and efficient way of transporting goods.
“We’ve worked closely with our partners at Breedon and in Welsh Government to get Llandudno Junction open for business, ensuring that we can carry slate aggregates by rail and therefore reducing the number of lorries on the road and cutting carbon emissions.
“The recent slate loading represents the second revenue-earning freight flow to commence on the North Wales coast-line in recent months – showing how we can work together to have a positive impact on the environment and the economy.”
Andy Roberts, General Manager at Breedon’s Welsh Slate Business said “Breedon are delighted to have worked with Welsh Government to develop a high quality freight facility in North Wales. This will allow slate aggregate to be delivered across the UK in a sustainable manner and remove truck movements from the A55.”
Freight has made a recent resurgence in Wales.
Back in April, for the first time since 2005, a freight train carrying Welsh timber from the forests of Ceredigion and Powys left Aberystwyth as part of a trial that could see regular freight traffic return to the Cambrian line.
Earlier this year, a sawmill in Abergavenny in Wales received its first load of rail-transported timber since 2004, thanks to a partnership between Network Rail and freight operator Colas Rail, which could see the return of ‘log trains’ as a regular sight travelling on the railway along the south Devon coastline.
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