Thames Gateway Minister officially opens Crossrail Northfleet Rail Link in Kent

Posted: 22 June 2012 | | No comments yet

Thames Gateway Minister, has officially opened a new £13.5 million freight link…

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Thames Gateway Minister, Bob Neill, has officially opened a new £13.5 million freight link from the North Kent Line to the former Lafarge Cement Works at Northfleet. The new freight line will initially be used to transport excavated material from the construction of Crossrail’s tunnels from London by rail rather than by road.

To mark the official opening, the Minister along with invited guests, travelled in a special passenger train from London Victoria into Lafarge’s Northfleet site via the reinstated rail link.

Exactly one year after his first visit to the then empty brownfield site, the Minister viewed the significant progress that has been made over the last 12 months to reinstate the railway, construct a new connection to the North Kent Line, and receive the first trainloads of Crossrail excavated material from London. The length of the new freight line is around 2.25km with 4.75km of new track provided.

At Northfleet the excavated material will be transferred to ship for the final part of its journey along the Thames to a new RSPB nature reserve at Wallasea Island in Essex.

Thames Gateway Minister Bob Neill said: “I’m delighted to be here at the celebrations for the reopening of this vital rail line. Infrastructure such as this is essential in allowing businesses to move goods and will help propel growth in this area.

“I saw this very site one year ago and the progress has been astonishing. Today I’ve been along the line and seen what it will do for the local economy. This project is now going to provide support for the building of Crossrail, proving that the Thames Gateway is well and truly open for business.”

David Simms, Land and Planning Director for Lafarge Cement said: “Crossrail’s involvement in Northfleet has been a major catalyst in enabling the construction of this new freight line which will play a leading role in transporting excavated material from the new tunnels. The new rail link forms the second stage of Lafarge’s regeneration of the 104-acre site where a new residential and business community will be created, enhancing Northfleet’s connections to the River Thames.

“In the medium term we hope to use the rail link to serve our existing cement terminal. When Crossrail tunnelling completes, we intend to construct a new Aggregates Terminal which could export up to 1.2m tonnes by rail per year when it is fully operational. It is hoped that this sustainable form of freight transport could facilitate further jobs and development in north west Kent.”

Chris Dulake, Crossrail’s Chief Engineer said: “More than 1 million tonnes of earth will be excavated during the construction of Crossrail’s western tunnels between Royal Oak Portal and Farringdon. Transporting excavated material by train will remove at least 50,000 lorry journeys from central London as well as ensuring its use for environmental improvement including a major new RSPB nature reserve in Essex.”

Jorge Mendonça, Network Rail’s Crossrail Programme Director, said: “Our work to support this new rail link strengthens our aim of getting more freight removed from road onto rail to provide a faster, greener, safer, and more efficient and reliable way of transporting goods. Rail freight is predicted to grow by as much as 140% over the next 30 years. Without the railway, this growth would mean an extra 1.5 million lorry journeys on Britain’s roads each year. It is important to ensure that rail freight plays its part in supporting economic recovery and long-term sustainable growth.”

At the peak of tunnelling up to five freight trains a day will be operated by GB Railfreight from Westbourne Park in west London carrying a total of 7,000 tonnes of earth. Over 10,000 tonnes of excavated material has already been transported from London to Kent.

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