Rail Central (Strategic Rail Freight Interchange)

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Rail Central (Strategic Rail Freight Interchange)

Received 04 December 2018
From Andrew Bodman


Application TR050004 for Rail Central strategic rail freight interchange

I strongly object to this proposal

Rail Central is non-compliant with the National Policy Statement for National Networks on several matters including national network, near to major markets, available local workforce, sustainability, air quality, adjacent to residential areas, road congestion and safety, cumulative impact and historic environment.

Rail Central is also non-compliant with several policies within the National Planning Policy Framework many of which overlap with those listed above. Rail Central is also non-compliant with the West Northants Joint Core Strategy and the South Northamptonshire Council’s local plan.

Rail Central would be situated 18 miles from Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT), the largest strategic rail freight interchange (SRFI) in the country; DIRFT has an expansion capability until 2031. This application would not assist in the creation of a national network of SRFIs. Nor has the developer demonstrated that there is demand for a SRFI at this location.

The developer has not carried out a satisfactory alternative sites assessment which places it in contravention of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations and the Town and Country Planning Act.

The additional train paths that have been forecast for this SRFI are unlikely to be available. What is of greater concern is that existing rail passenger services might be reduced or future rail passenger services are likely to be constricted by Rail Central’s train paths. This project has reached Network Rail’s GRIP level 2 which means its associated risks are unacceptably high.

Rail Central is too close to the major container ports at Felixstowe and Southampton to provide economically viable rail journeys from them.

Unemployment is exceptionally low in South Northamptonshire meaning there would not be a readily available local workforce. A visit to local logistics sites at Brackmills and DIRFT will always show a number of companies attempting to recruit drivers and/or warehouse operatives.

The additional traffic movements generated by this SRFI would have a significant impact on users of the A43, A45, A5076, A5123 and minor roads in the vicinity. Rail Central would create major delays on nearby roads at peak times. Additional traffic would be generated on the A43 which is already been monitored due to its high accident rate. It is considered that the traffic forecast by the Northamptonshire Strategic Transport Model has underestimated likely volumes for 2031.

Approximately 45% of the additional traffic movements created by this SRFI are forecast to pass through one of the two immediately adjacent air quality management areas.

Ashfield Land has elected not to run the Northamptonshire Strategic Transport Model with the full data for Northampton Gateway and Rail Central simultaneously. The lack of such a cumulative assessment has been considered unacceptable. Cumulative impact assessments have not taken consideration of High Speed Two, nor labour force availability. Rail Central is in breach of EIA regulations in respect of the shortcomings of its cumulative assessment.

Crime rates are expected to soar in nearby villages if this SRFI is built.