Rail freight operators have looked to the construction sector as coal volumes wane.
In November, DB Cargo struck a 10-year deal with Day Group to move aggregates from Kent across the South East of England for concrete production and construction projects, including the Battersea Power Station redevelopment and London Underground’s Northern Line extension. DB Cargo, which runs more than 15 trains per week under the deal, also carries incinerator bottom ash from Newhaven, Sussex to Brentford, West London, for processing as aggregate (the train is reloaded with recycled aggregates for Newhaven). The group expects to introduce high-capacity wagons to support growth in volumes from Day.
DB Cargo last year agreed a five-year contract with Mendip Rail to deliver more than 100 trains of aggregates per week, using ‘jumbo trains’ – the heaviest in the UK – that can carry more 3,300t of aggregates. A Class 59 locomotive hauls each 44-wagon train from quarries in Somerset to West London, where it is split for delivery across the South East. DB Cargo serve 33 depots for Mendip Rail, loading materials at quarries in Somerset, as well as South Wales and Leicestershire, and Aggregate Industries’ Isle of Grain Wharf, Hanson Aggregates’ Dagenham Wharf and Avonmouth Docks in Bristol.
GB Railfreight (GBRf) also runs aggregate trains between Whatley Quarry, Somerset and Wellingborough, as part of a rolling 12-month contract, and last year started serving the Mendips for Hanson UK. GBRf has also invested in new wagons as part of a new deal with Sibelco Europe. The 41 new 102t hopper wagons are built by Poland’s Greenbrier and leased from Nacco. The freight operator’s new aggregate sand wagon fleet will enter service in August. GBRf transports silica sand from Sibelco’s quarry at King’s Lynn in Norfolk to Guardian Industries’ UK plant at Goole in Yorkshire, and Ardagh Group’s glass sites in Barnsley and Doncaster.