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Home > Stakeholders and Community > Insight - Stakeholder Newsletter > Rail terminal improvement could cut lorryloads  

Insight Stakeholder Newsletter

Rail terminal improvement could cut lorryloads

26 October 2012

A flask arriving by road for loading at the railheadThe new railhead, completed earlier this year, has been vital to enable nuclear materials to be moved by road from Dounreay and transferred by train to Sellafield, however, it will also be made available for commercial freight movements. 

The North Highland rail line runs from Inverness to Wick and Thurso where it terminates. 

The NDA's Head of Programme at Dounreay, Nigel Lowe, said: "The NDA recognised that the local community had been lobbying for a rail freight terminal for many years because of the sustainable economic development potential associated with such a facility. We hope it will be a good example of gaining maximum impact from our investment in the clean-up of the Dounreay site." 

The NDA's subsidiary Direct Rail Services (DRS) looked at three sites in Caithness before concluding that Georgemas was the most viable, and the construction work was carried out between March and July this year. 

DRS Communications Manager Austen Skinner said: "We have already met business and community leaders, including representatives from Caithness Transport Forum, Caithness Chamber of Commerce, Dounreay site stakeholders group and Orkney Islands Council to explore the possibilities for commercial traffic." 

John Green, Chairman of Caithness Transport Forum added: "We welcome the investment that has been made at Georgemas and look forward to seeing long-term local benefits from its commercialisation. 

"I understand that DRS is talking to a diverse range of businesses about taking freight into the north of Scotland, but also there is now huge potential for using rail to export goods from the region to other parts of the UK and onward into Europe." 

He said that the increased use of rail would help to relieve pressure on the busy A9 trunk road. 

Georgemas is approximately 15 miles from Dounreay and just eight miles from Scrabster Harbour, which is currently undergoing an NDA-funded major redevelopment programme that will have the capacity to support oil and gas developments in the Pentland Firth, as well as the marine renewables industry. 

The Georgemas railhead upgrade includes the installation of a fixed crane capable of lifting more than 100 tonnes, a new concrete platform and welfare facilities. 

DRS, based in Carlisle, specialises in moving nuclear material and has clocked up more than 12 million miles moving nuclear fuel safely across the UK. The freight specialist also moves millions of tonnes of non-nuclear freight, including consumer goods and high-value products. 

According to the Rail Freight Operators Association, each train would remove up to 70 lorries from the roads, while reducing congestion and cutting carbon dioxide emissions.