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Issue 5 2014 - Freight Business Journal

///WALES Cambrian cargoes

The Welsh freight industry may not be the world’s largest, but it is essential to the local economy and it is also surprisingly diverse. It ranges from oil imports at Milford Haven in the south-west, shipments of steel and other bulks to service South Wales’ remaining steel manufacturers; Irish ro ro traffic to and from the ports of Holyhead and Fishguard; plus a small amount of container trade with Ireland, to the highly specialised sea and air operations serving the Airbus manufacturing plant in the northeast. Air, sea, rail and road all play a part.

Long on ambition, but short of cash

activities with policy decisions still taken by Westminster or, indeed, by commercial interests. The

Group also

road network, Government

is identified

a number of pinch points on Wales’ the

committed to

The report on the future of the industry, published by the Welsh Government’s Freight Task and Finish Group earlier this year, contains a long wish list of possible projects, some of which may one day come to fruition. It also stresses that, with rising fuel costs, the transport market can change; it is important “not to close any doors to future opportunities and to plan now on the basis of enabling them where viable”. But

anyone expecting the

report to be the catalyst for major new projects like rail terminals or ports will be disappointed. That said, the report does recognise the importance of

taking into account the need for

future intermodal freight

interchanges when drawing up land-use plans, noting also that interchanges such as ports can attract value-added processes. This does in fact already happen in ports such as Cardiff (see article) where there are companies involved in steel processing and timber preparation, for example. However, the report notes that it

is not convinced that these factors are always taken into account in present land-use decisions. In fact, the Welsh Government

doesn’t have too much of a say in port developments at the moment, as it is one of the non-devolved


although already a

number of them. But it noted also that there are roads in Europe that form part of the TEN-T pan- European network that might not meet the latter’s standards – and indeed, most of the problem areas identified are on the TEN-T network. It also urges the Welsh

Government to deliver as quickly as possible all the commitments it has made to improve the A55 expressway

along the North

Wales coast, the main east-west artery in that part of the country and the principal link between England and Ireland. It also wants similar commitments for other improvements including the A494/A483 in north-east Wales, the A40/A477 in the south west

and an early start of Phase 1 of the Cardiff Bay Eastern Link. Another priority should be the

‘import road’ linking the Holyhead port area with the A55. Last time this

scheme was considered,

in 2003, the costs made this economically unviable but given the port’s plans to develop offshore energy operations, there is a new business case, it considers. Although not a develoved

matter, the group would also like the Welsh Government to use its influence to get tolls on the Severn Crossing removed when the current concession ends. It notes the Arup report which said that the tolls could be harming the Welsh economy. Rail

traffic encouraged and should be the Welsh

Government should ensure that any existing rail infrastructure, especially near

ports, Swansea. Gauge

clearance and electrification of the North Wales coast line should


be retained – for example, at Holyhead or

be pursued (work on the South Wales main line from London to Swansea is already under way). The Welsh Government

has already said that it would support reintroduction of lo lo

container services at Holyhead- discontinued in the 1980s when Sealink axed its Holyhead Ireland container ship – although it recognises that Liverpool now has a dominant share of this traffic.

Barry: trains and ships

The small seaside town of Barry about 10 miles west of Cardiff may currently be best known as the setting for for Gavin and Stacey, but it is also home to one of South Wales’ only rail terminals with a regular container service. The £2m investment

in the

facility was initially to facilitate flows to and from silicone producer

Dow Corning but the six days a week DB Schenker-operated service to Southampton and Tilbury is available to other traffic. Otherwise, the compact port

facilities handle a mixture of timber, occasional coal shipments, aggregates and recylced material and there is plenty of land available at this trimodal terminal.

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