Hanson has invested £250,000 in restoring the railway siding at its plant in Ashton-in-Makerfield. It is the first-time rail freight has been run into the depot for some 10 years, and will see hundreds of lorry journeys taken off the roads each year.
Working in partnership with GB Railfreight, Hanson will run three trains a week from its quarry in Shap, Cumbria, down to its site in Ashton. It is expected that over 200,000 tonnes of material will be taken by rail each year along this new route, which saw its first service run on October 15.
Simon Day, Hanson UK’s regional general manager for the north, said: “The investment in the site is an important part of our rail strategy. We are working to try to increase the tonnage of aggregates we transport this way across the UK. These three trains a week will take around 1,500 truck journeys off the road each year and mean that we only need to put the material onto road transport for the last 5 – 10 miles rather than the 60 – 80 miles we do now. This will reduce the distances travelled on the road by our truck fleet by around 500,000 miles per year.”
GB Railfreight’s managing director, John Smith, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Hanson on this new service, which will be using one of GB Railfreight’s recently purchased class 60 locomotives.
“This partnership is further demonstration of the role freight can play in taking trucks off the road and reducing emissions.”
The material will be used by the company’s asphalt and concrete plants as well as supplying the construction market in the north west of England.
As well as refurbishing the rail track serving the site, money is being spent on upgrading the depot including the installation of a new weighbridge and office facilities.