Victa Railfreight has been awarded a Freight Fund Grant by Transport Scotland which is enabling it to undertake a comprehensive trial of the movement by rail of timber, primarily from forests in Caithness to the Norbord Plant at Dalcross near Inverness during August and September.
The objective of the trial is to re-establish rail as a potential means of transporting timber from forests to the main users of timber, to reduce the pressure on fragile rural roads and to help reduce carbon emissions.
Victa is leading a cross industry effort, with active support from Network Rail and Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS), building on their previous pioneering Branchliner work in this sector. Wagons are being supplied by DB Cargo and train operation, including locomotives and drivers, is being provided by West Coast Railways (WCR). This team effort is the culmination of activity following on the Timber by Rail Summit convened by the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism – Fergus Ewing in the spring of 2019.
The main flow will be from the freight terminal at Georgemas Junction in Caithness to Inverness freight yard for onward delivery by road to Norbord, with timber coming from Munro Harvesting. But other potential loading points may be used, once the Georgemas trial has become established.
Neil Sime, Managing Director of Victa Railfreight, said, “Victa Railfreight is delighted to be able to lead this cross-industry effort to re-establish the movement of timber by rail from forests in Scotland to the main production plants. We greatly appreciate the funding from Transport Scotland without which this trial would not be happening. The collaboration with parties in both the rail and timber industries has been excellent and very timely given the publication last week of the Scottish Decarbonisation Policy, for which modal shift to rail is a key target.”
Bill Reeve (Director of Rail at Transport Scotland) said “The Scottish Government has a strong record of supporting rail freight. It recognises the environmental benefits that modal shift of freight from road to rail can make in terms of reduced emissions and improved air quality, and the important contributory role rail freight makes towards the Scottish Government’s Net Zero target for all greenhouse gases by 2045.”
“I am personally encouraged by the proactive collaboration between the rail and timber industries throughout this trial so far and I look forward to seeing further projects such as this which can only be good news for both our economy and our environment.”
Frank Roach, Rail officer for HITRANS, said “HITRANS are grateful that Victa has come forward to co-ordinate the rail effort and we are delighted to have been able to provide active support and additional funding.”