The last time a freight train carrying Welsh timber left Aberystwyth, Wales, heading through Newton and Welshpool, was 2005. That is until recently, as a trial was just conducted to see if regular freight traffic can return on the Cambrian line.
The successful trial, aimed at exploring the feasibility of transporting timber by rail to reduce carbon emissions, opens up the possibility of removing hundreds of large lorries from the rural roads of Mid Wales. It would have taken 16 full loaded lorries to undertake the same movement done by rail of the 700-tons of logs. It is estimated that a quarter of a ton of carbon dioxide was saved by using the railway for this purpose.
The timber, which came from the forests of Ceredigion and Powys, was loaded onto a Colas Rail freight service at Aberystwyth ready to be transported to the Kronospan manufacturing plant in Chirk. Kronospan makes and distributes timber products such as wood paneling for furniture and flooring and plays a key role in the timber supply chain.
Commenting on the trial run, Jess Lippett, Network Rail senior route freight manager, said, “Rail freight is a vital part of our infrastructure, providing a fast, green, safe, and efficient way of transporting goods. This trial run shows how we can work together to have a positive impact on the environment and the economy, with the potential to remove hundreds of lorries from rural roads while supporting local businesses.”
Simon Metcalf, business delivery manager (North) for Colas Rail, added:
“Colas Rail Freight, Kronospan, and Network Rail have worked in partnership for many years developing cost effective and environmentally friendly solutions for the continuing transportation of timber by rail. These new services are the first commercial freight trains to operate over the Cambrian rail route for over 25 years—aside from one journey in the early 2000s—and combine route specific traction with state-of-the-art European Rail Traffic Management Signaling (ERTMS).
Both Colas Rail and Kronospan continue to strive to identify the reduction of CO2 emissions across their business portfolio.”
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Timber hits the rails for first time since 2005