A Rail Freight Depot at Park Street will not work says top engineer

PUBLISHED: 15:17 27 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:41 06 May 2010

A MECHANICAL engineer has told the inquiry into proposals for a huge rail freight terminal in Park Street that the scheme will not work. Ben Wilson, who has over 21 years experience as a consultant and practitioner for rail companies and authorities, said

A MECHANICAL engineer has told the inquiry into proposals for a huge rail freight terminal in Park Street that the scheme will not work.

Ben Wilson, who has over 21 years experience as a consultant and practitioner for rail companies and authorities, said the site is simply not capable of operating as a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI).

From a commercial perspective, he said the site would fail to fulfil its objective as it is "highly unlikely" that domestic freight traffic would be attracted to the site.

This is due to its distance away from deep sea ports, the capacity for trains along the line and the difficulties posed in linking up with West Coast Mainline.

Nor would the site operate as an SRFI from a technical point of view, Mr Wilson argued.

He said that there was no confidence that adequate rail works or pathways exist for the trains to even access the 3.5 million square foot site on Green Belt land.

In the absence of technical constraints, he said a maximum of three trains would be able to access the site during each off-peak hour at present.

But once frequency steps up when the Thameslink 2000 programme timetable is implemented, Mr Wilson said there is unlikely to be any available paths.

Helioslough barrister Martin Kingston argued that Network Rail saw no insurmountable problems with implementing the scheme.

Mr Wilson told him he was disappointed with Network Rail for making such a statement, but said that the support is very limited and can be seen as nothing more than the body fulfilling its regulatory responsibilities.

In fact, he said any agreements that the site will work are "based on projections which we don't have any evidence of."

Mr Wilson also said there was no justification in taking a sectorised approach to SRFI locations and that there is no evidence that the northwest quadrant of the M25 concerned represents any demand for such a development.

He also said the alternative sites survey was flawed and lacked clarity and cohesion - meaning that there are a number of sites far better suited than the one in Park Street.


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