Half of gigantic rail depot near Northampton would not be accessible by trains, campaigners claim

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More than half of an eight million square foot rail depot planned for near Northampton would have to be served by lorries rather than freight trains, campaigners claim.

Stop Rail Central, which is fighting plans for the land on behalf of villagers in nearby Milton Malsor and Blisworth, has said the title of the scheme - which is aimed at reducing pollution caused by movement of freight - is misleading.

Spokesman Mark Redding said: “Due to the bisection of the site by the old Towcester Road, over half of the facility can never be served by rail.

“The cost of unloading freight on one side of the site and shunting it to the warehouses on the other is simply not financially viable. Over 50 per cent of the site would be, and would always remain, a road served logistics park.

“Two of the four prime objectives of the government policy: those of removing freight from the road and of reducing carbon emissions can never be met at Rail Central.”

Ashfield Land, which has bought up - or has options on - the necessary plots of land, argued that a building does not have to have a direct physical connection to the railway line in order to benefit from being located on the same site as the rail terminal.

It says a significant proportion of the containers that come and go by train are then moved to and from the warehouses by purpose-built road shuttles, similar to those used at container ports.

Projects like Rail Central, Ashfield Land says, are not about exclusive rail access but instead about maximising the part of the freight journey on rail and minimising the part on road.

Claire Cope, director for the Rail Central scheme, said: “All strategic rail freight interchanges around the country are a combination of directly rail-linked warehousing and buildings which, although not physically linked to the railway, benefit from being rail accessible.

“It is this mixture that enables the rail element of the freight journey to be maximised and the road element to be minimised.”