Unlocking the Benefits of Freight

Unlocking the Benefits of Freight

Following the country’s decision to leave the EU, Philippa Edmunds, manager of Freight on Rail and a member of the Campaign for Better Transport, highlights the importance of freight in the UK, with a particular focus in the north east.

AV Dawson, the freight logistics expert, have a multi-modal 100-acre Teesside freight handling facility at Teesport in Middlesbrough. In fact, there are so many different exciting elements of the business it is difficult to know where to start so I will concentrate on the rail-related aspect.

Through its 240-strong team AV Dawson provide a seamless multimodal service across road, rail, land and sea, including berthing for deep-drafted vessels and an onsite shipping agency, rail services through its rail freight terminals with direct links to the East Coast Main Line, a 32-vehicle haulage fleet and a range of warehousing, storage and accommodation facilities.

With four combined rail terminals, all linked via Middlesbrough Goods Yard  directly to the East Coast Main Line, AV Dawson’s rail facility is one of the largest rail freight facilities in the north of England. It offers unique and market-specific freight handling, warehousing and storage including 42m high fabrication halls and an award-winning state of the art automotive steel distribution centre.

The main rail traffic is steel coil and plate, polyhalite and potash, slag aggregates and contaminated soils. More recently, AV Dawson is exploring opportunities for intermodal and renewables such as RDF and waste wood.

Regional benefits striking

The regional benefits of this operation are striking with a 240-strong workforce with exciting and ambitious investment plans and technical and environmental innovation leading the way in sustainable regeneration.

The automotive steel store terminal offers a unique, state-of-the-art facility with a rail terminal directly into the automotive steel distribution centre, which provides efficient loading and unloading from train to crane and directly into the store, with no requirements for road transport and no delays caused by adverse weather. It provides an integrated model making rail even more competitive for the customer by providing increased speed and efficiency, improved customer service, value for money and reduced environment impact saving around 100 tonnes of CO2 every year. It also showcases the efficiency of seamless rail connectivity, encouraging more businesses to consider rail. It was developed to support the ever increasing supply of steel coil into the north east automotive markets, and in particular to car giant Nissan in Sunderland which produces 1 in 3 cars in the UK. Impressively, AV Dawson has brought redundant brownfield land inactive for over 50 years back into productive use and created more green jobs on Teeside.

In terms of future rail freight developments in the region, the outputs from the Transport for the North intermodal freight strategy are eagerly awaited by AV Dawson and the industry as a whole. In fact, I met Gary Dawson at a Transport for the North stakeholder event in Leeds in the New Year and he mentioned the importance of East to West rail connectivity and how opening this up could be a real game changer for AV Dawson, its customers and the north east as a whole. Freight on Rail and Transport for the North jointly held a workshop at the end of January for the industry to explain to the team of consultants and officials writing the strategy what rail freight interventions are needed.

Freight on Rail stated that the following is needed:

  • Capability to haul intermodal trains at 775m/1800 tonnes both North-South or East-West
  • Capability to haul bulk trains at up to 2400 tonnes
  • A gauge cleared route for intermodal containers Trans-Pennine, preferably the Diggle route
  • Capacity on Trans-Pennine routes to meet the desired capacity
  • A 24/7 railway that matches the M62 motorway
  • Improved journey times for freight services
  • Capacity and capability to support any new terminal development
  • Additional North-South rail freight capacity on both WCML and ECML to support routes to the North from and to the ports

Rail and road complement each other, so it is important that each mode plays to its strengths and that is what AV Dawson is putting into practice. Rail freight has an important role in providing a safer, sustainable alternative to HGVs which reduces road congestion.

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