The government has given the go-ahead for a £400m rail freight terminal at the former Radlett aerodrome near St Albans.
The decision was announced by Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government, just before Christmas and has been welcomed by industry organisations including the Freight Transport Association and the Rail Freight Group.
The plan for the strategic rail freight interchange put forward by developer Helioslough includes an intermodal terminal and rail and road served distribution units totalling 331,665 sq m. The scheme has been strongly opposed by local environmental groups.
The RFG pointed out that Radlett will be the only major rail freight interchange in the North and West quadrants around London, well situated with good road and rail links, and should enable a much higher proportion of freight to use rail freight for parts of journey.
Executive director Maggie Simpson said: “This is great news for the rail freight sector, and for those businesses, particularly in the retail sector, who want to increase the use of rail in their supply chains. Radlett has been in the planning system for over a decade, and we are delighted that it has finally reached a positive conclusion. We congratulate the developers on their perseverance.”
The FTA said it recognised the need for more intermodal freight terminals. An FTA study, On Track!, highlighted the fact that a significant and growing volume of goods sold in high street stores and supermarkets is being regularly moved by rail and retailers are reaping major efficiency and environmental benefits by doing so.
Chris MacRae, FTA’s rail freight policy manager said: “Rail freight terminals are the freight network’s equivalent of passenger stations: so this decision is a good Christmas present for the freight industry and helps modal shift and the environment”.