Posted 14th April 2016 | 7 Comments

New railfreight hub proposed for West Midlands

PLANS have been published for a major rail interchange in the West Midlands, which its promoters say will boost the regional economy and could create between 6,500 and 8,500 jobs.

The developer, Four Ashes, has already won the support of Network Rail.

Early proposals outline a freight interchange with warehousing and other associated development on land west of Junction 12 of the M6 in southern Staffordshire. The Interchange would be connected directly to the West Coast Main Line and would also serve Birmingham, the northern M6 corridor, Staffordshire and parts of Warwickshire.

Four Ashes said it will now be consulting nearby communities, residents, businesses and regional organisations as part of detailed planning over the next 18 months. The firm said it intends to develop a masterplan which will be the subject of a full public consultation this summer. This will help with the development of more detailed proposals for a second round of consultation next year.

Four Ashes Limited is a consortium led by rail infrastructure company Kilbride Holdings in partnership with privately owned international property group, Grosvenor Group, which is providing funding, and Piers Monckton, the majority landowner.

Four Ashes managing director Peter Frost said: “A strategic rail freight interchange is something that has been long identified as essential for the future prosperity of the West Midlands region. The region’s strong logistics and manufacturing industries will need faster, more reliable transport links in future to attract global business and investment. The Government too, strongly encourages modal shift from road to rail, to help reduce transport’s carbon emissions and to provide economic benefits.

“This site has been identified because of its exceptional location with direct connections to the M6 and the West Coast Main Line. These factors, together with its size which is in the region of 250 hectares, make the site ideal for a strategic rail freight interchange.

“We are at the early stages of designing the scheme and are assessing layout options. Talking to the local community about the project to help us shape the proposals is very important to us and will therefore form a significant part of the design process.”

Guy Bates, who is head of freight development at Network Rail, said: “Network Rail recognises the importance of appropriately located intermodal terminal developments in achieving greater modal shift nationwide. To this end Network Rail is supportive of the West Midlands Interchange proposal and is engaged with the Four Ashes team in progressing the associated matters of rail infrastructure design."

The project would qualify as a 'nationally significant infrastructure project' and will require a Development Consent Order from the transport secretary.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • A Clarke, Stafford

    Telford International Railfreight Park is only 17 miles away up the M54. It opened in 2009 and has never been used as a freight terminal, only a graveyard for redundant rolling stock.

  • Nicholas Perrins, Stafford

    This place is not to site to put a huge rail hub. The area is too small, lacks sufficient road connection and is within greenbelt. 1600 HGVs will have to transverse the already clogged A449. The M54 junction is already a nightmare, the M6 - no go. The lanes around here will not be able the sustain the numbers who will try to escape the congestion imported into South Staffs from the West Mids.
    Freight should be transported from manufacture - not dragged 20 miles out into the countryside. How does that cut emissions? People think! Put it in the West Midlands where it belongs

  • Nicholas Perrons, Stafford

    A cock -up in the making.
    The site is completely wrong for this size of proposal. There is huge congestion within this area already and if, as we are told, an expected 1600 HGVs are going to be smoking along, as well as 8000 employees, the roads around it will come to a stand still.
    I know, I use the roads everyday. The junction to the M54 is a nightmare, the A449 choked, the M6 - no go. God help the lanes around here if idiots from afar pass it.
    The site is greenbelt between Stafford and Wolverhampton and this idiotic scheme would merely drag congestion into this area whilst barely reducing it elsewhere. Find the reports they are suppressing!. There are better sites, but these bastards think they can get away with it.
    No, this is about an opportunist company in league with a greedy landowner, and distant titled backing.
    If the metropolitan areas to the south of us desire to transport their goods, they should put them straight onto rail by manufacture, not drive them out 20 miles or more into the countryside along A roads and cause new problems and pollution in Staffordshire. They just can't be bothered to clear sites that would better suited.
    This proposed site is pure lazy thinking, an exercise in poor vision and the greed of a few who think they can bamboozle the dim.

  • Gary S Smith, Wolverhampton

    There is already a freight loop at Four Ashes and warehousing is emphasised but that will still involve container traffic. Not far away down the A5 road is the rail terminal and at the site of the Mid Cannock Colliery which is adjacent to, and to be connected, to the Walsall - Rugeley railway line; that already has planning permission.

  • Sam Green, Kettering

    Now where have I heard this before ? The promises of rail freight traffic that never materializes once panning permission has been granted and the project is built .the end result is rusty un used sidings while trucks go in and out !

  • Tony Pearce, Reading

    I believe that rail infrastructure company, Kilbride Holdings, own and mange the Keypoint Freight Terminal at Swindon. Although I have visited the terminal many times since it was built it has been a great disappointment as I've never seen and freight trains there. I often wonder how much freight traffic can be generated for Rail these days. The only successful ones seem to be ones dealing with Conatiner Traffic bound for the UKs ports. I would love to know that I'm wrong.

  • Chris Green, Huddersfield

    More consumer goods are being transported by rail as the popularity of freight is rocketing, and I am pleased Network Rail is backing the plan. This is why I wish Network Rail to remain in its current form. Projects like this might not be possible if their structure is changed.