Victa Railfreight will conduct a £195,000 trial, funded by the Scottish Government, of transporting timber by rail in the North of Scotland.
The trial will run for six weeks and will operate up to three trains a week, with a capability of moving around 6,000 tonnes of timber. This will take around 250 lorries totalling 55,000 lorry miles away from Scotland’s roads.
The trial has been arranged through the Scottish Strategic Rail Freight Fund. This is open to rail freight industry partners to table proposals for improvements which meet modal shift objectives. In this case, following proactive and productive engagement with the timber and rail freight industry an opportunity for this trial between Caithness and Inverness has been identified.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure & Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “We have worked closely with the timber and rail freight industry to explore opportunities for modal shift and I am delighted to confirm funding for this rail freight trial which will remove around 250 lorries from our busy roads.
“This Government has a strong track record of support for rail freight, we know that rail freight and modal shift to rail reduces road congestion, improves air quality and reduces emissions.
“The trial will help to demonstrate that the movement of timber in Scotland by rail is possible as well as efficient and, it will provide confidence to both the timber and rail freight industries to develop permanent and sustainable solutions to meet market needs.
“This type of collaboration can support a sustainable green economic recovery from the current health crisis. It is good news for the timber and rail freight industry, for the Scottish economy and for the environment.”
Neil Sime, Victa Railfreight’s Managing Director said: “Victa is delighted that the Scottish Government has provided substantial funding so that we could bring together rail freight and timber industry partners to enable this collaborative trial of moving timber by rail to happen.
“We hope that it will lead to further movements of timber by rail across Scotland, providing greener solutions and reducing damage to sensitive rural roads.”
Subject to the relevant approval,s the trial will look at additional potential loading points including Thurso, Lairg and Kyle of Lochalsh.
Ultimately the trial will stimulate other permanent sustainable movements of timber in Scotland. It complements the rail freight industry’s freight growth plan for Scotland and helps to meet our regulatory targets for rail freight growth.