UK grant to keep limestone freight off the road and on the rails

A £6.1 million grant from the UK Government will allow a chemical company to upgrade its rail off-loading facilities and keep almost one million tonnes of limestone on the rails instead of switching to delivery by lorry.

The Freight Facilities Grant awarded by the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) is the largest ever such grant in England. It will assist Brunner Mond, based near Northwich, Cheshire in overhauling its rail facilities.

Brunner Mond has received limestone from the Tilcon Ltd’s Tunstead Quarry in the Peak District for 60 years. A £9 million investment in improvements to the rail connection will include the purchase of new rail wagons that will reduce noise and vibration from trains hauling limestone.

The upgraded rail facility and wagons are expected to be in place by the end of 2000.

Announcing the large grant, Lord MacDonald reiterated the Government’s intention to encourage rail freight. “My message to companies is simple. The money is available, take advantage of the grants and we all win in terms of less congestion on our roads and less pollution in the air we breathe. This grant alone will save about one and a half million extra lorry journeys through rural Derbyshire and Cheshire over the next ten years,” said MacDonald.

Limestone is a raw material in the manufacture of soda ash, Brunner Mond UK’s most important product. Soda ash is an essential constituent in the manufacture of glass and is also used in the production of detergents and industrial chemicals.

Two grants are available under the UK Freight Grants Scheme. Freight Facilities Grants are available towards the capital cost of rail and inland waterway freight equipment in cases where the traffic would otherwise move by road. Track Access Grants are available to assist companies in meeting the cost of Railtrack access charges for freight flows, which could not be attracted to rail or would otherwise transfer to road.

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