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DB Cargo UK boosts London’s construction sector

Despite the Government’s ongoing restrictions, DB Cargo UK has announced the official opening of its new £7 million rail freight terminal in Cricklewood, North London.

Operations have now started at the 151-hectare site off Edgware Road which will facilitate the movement of large volumes of aggregates and spoil into and out of the capital.

The new terminal provides a faster, more efficient and environmentally-friendly alternative to the movement of materials by road, with each freight train carrying the equivalent of around 76 HGVs.

Tarmac and FCC Environment have already started operations at the site with discussions ongoing between DB Cargo UK and a number of other potential operators for the two remaining vacant plots.

Yesterday the Government announced plans to gradually ease restrictions on social-distancing in a bid to bring the UK economy back to life – the construction sector is seen as key to driving the economic revival.

Roger Neary, DB Cargo UK’s Head of Sales, said the new terminal at Cricklewood was of significant strategic importance and would support major construction projects like HS2 and the ongoing regeneration of Brent Cross.

“Our new rail freight terminal at Cricklewood will complement our existing operations at Bow East, Acton and Barking, providing a major boost for the capital’s construction supply chain.

“The new facility has been sympathetically-designed to minimise the impact on the neighbouring community and has a major role to play in helping the Government meet its challenging target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” he added.

“Some of the freight trains using this site will carry up to 1,500 tonnes of construction material a day, which can equate to around 375,000 tonnes per annum. Considering the fact that each train generates around 76% less emissions than their road equivalent, that’s a significant reduction in air pollution,” he added.

Chris Swan, Head of Rail at Tarmac, said Cricklewood would supply aggregates and materials to Tarmac customers for use in projects across North London, such as the £4.5 billion Brent Cross housing regeneration scheme and other major transport infrastructure projects.

The strategically-located site would import materials from Tarmac’s operations in Greenwich, London and Tunstead, Derbyshire, and help to support the business’s commitment to sustainability and moving more material by rail.

Tarmac’s use of rail freight to transport aggregates would take around 10,000 heavy goods vehicle (HGVs) movements off the roads every year, reducing the associated carbon emissions, congestion and safety impacts that these vehicles bring.

Mr Swan said: “As efforts continue to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality in London, rail freight is becoming increasingly important for local development. Around 50% of aggregates in the nation’s capital are moved by rail, with each freight train capable of transporting enough material to construct up to 30 homes.” 

“Our commitment to the Cricklewood facility, alongside our partners at DB Cargo UK, is testament to the importance of rail freight to London’s growth and infrastructure development. The strategic placement of the new site will enable continuity of high-quality material supply to projects throughout London while supporting more efficient, sustainable transport and a lower carbon-built environment,” he added.

Roland Williams, FCC Environment’s General Manager, said its terminal would receive up to 250kt a year, with the potential to increase this to 500kt annually.

From Cricklewood, the spoil will be taken by freight train to FCC Environment’s site at Calvert, Buckinghamshire and be re-used to restore the former quarry there.

Cricklewood will also stock aggregates on site, allowing clients to ‘backload’ when delivering spoil at the facility; further helping to reduce the number of journeys made by HGVs through the capital.

Mr Williams said: “We’re delighted to have opened up our third facility in London, allowing us to serve the construction industry in areas of London which are seeing a real increase in activity. We have been looking to establish a facility in this location for some time and our partnership with DB Cargo UK has allowed us to do this.”