Freight trains return to Aberystwyth in ‘surprise timber trial’

By Alexandra Bánfi   |   Reporter   |
Monday 9th May 2022 3:36 pm
@AlexandraBanfi
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A freight train left Aberystwyth train station, on Saturday, 30 April, for the first time since 2005. Credit: Ceredig Davies
A freight train left Aberystwyth train station, on Saturday, 30 April, for the first time since 2005 (Ceredig Davies )

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Freight trains have returned to Aberystwyth, for the first time since 2005, after a surprise timber trial rolled in to town.

The Aberystwyth community were greeted with a surprise after a freight train left the makeshift train terminal, at the town’s train station, on the evening of Saturday, 30 April.

Drone footage of the train leaving Aberystwyth was captured by local resident Stephen Hibbs and can be seen below.

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.

RailFreight.com reported the “surprise timbre trial” could see 800 tonnes taken off of the roads.

The timber, which came from the forests of Ceredigion and Powys, was loaded onto a Colas Rail freight service at Aberystwyth on Friday 29 April, ready to be transported to the Kronospan manufacturing plant in Chirk, north Wales. Kronospan makes and distributes timber products, such as wood panelling for furniture and flooring, playing an important role in the timber supply chain.

Ten wagons of unfinished timber left Aberystwyth on Friday, pulled by a pair of Class 37 locomotives owned by Network Rail, thanks to a partnership with the freight operator Colas Rail. The Class 37s were handpicked for the job in order to haul the 700-tonne load over the steep gradients of parts of the line, which skirts the edge of the Snowdonia mountain range.

Transporting timber by rail removed upwards of 16 lorries from the roads, helping to reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion.

It’s estimated that a quarter of a tonne of carbon dioxide was saved by using the railway for this purpose, which equates to 30,411 charges of your smart phone or the carbon emissions per passenger taking a one-way flight from Amsterdam to Rome.

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, north Wales.
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, north Wales. (Network Rail ) (Network Rail)

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.”

RailFreight.com reported: “There has been much local criticism of timber traffic on the rural roads of Mid-Wales. The forestry authorities have therefore made another attempt at reintroducing loads to the rails. The chosen loading terminal is Aberystwyth, on the mid Wales coast, and conveniently located to serve plantations in Snowdonia to the north, Rheidol Valley to the east, and various locations to the south.

“Aberystwyth is a centre of the Welsh-speaking community. No matter how it may be expressed, replacing multiple heavy truck movements with a single heavy train makes sense – in any language.”

Owing to the success of this first trial run, Network Rail hopes to work with Kronospan and Colas Rail on another test journey in the near future.

Owing to the success of this first trial run, Network Rail hopes to work with Kronospan and Colas Rail on another test journey in the near future.
Owing to the success of this first trial run, Network Rail hopes to work with Kronospan and Colas Rail on another test journey in the near future. (Network Rail ) (Network Rail)
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