Rail Central (Strategic Rail Freight Interchange)

The views expressed in this page do not represent those of the Planning Inspectorate. This page consists of content submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by the public and other interested parties, giving their views of this proposal.

Rail Central (Strategic Rail Freight Interchange)

Received 18 December 2018
From Mike Haynes


Developments such as the Rail Central project that form part of the strategic national infrastructure need to take into account the geographic spread of the type of infrastructure they represent. Rail Central and the adjacent Northampton Gateway proposals are situated less than 20 miles from the main DIRFT rail freight interchange at Daventry. Infrastructure already exists to service this interchange so surely if greater capacity is required within the same part of the country then the logic would be to expand that site. It does not make sense to construct a whole new site the size of the small town in a location that will destroy several rural villages and countless acres of surrounding countryside.

Surely the right thing to do, which would be far more in the interests of the strategic national infrastructure policy, is to locate a new SRFI in other key locations of the country to create a national rail freight network. For example, around Birmingham, Bristol, Dover, Felixstowe, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and York?

Neither the existing rail network serving the proposed Rail Central site nor the surrounding road network is capable of handling the additional traffic that would result. The M1, A43 and A5 within this locale are all at capacity now and whenever the M1 gets congested around Junctions 15-16 (which is very frequently), the A5 and A43 quickly also grind to a standstill. The railways have also confirmed they do not have the spare capacity to service these developments.

Nearby residential areas will also suffer a considerable increase in pollution. Current studies show that pollution in these areas is already exceeding acceptable levels (according to the Government's own rules) so any decision to allow the Rail Central development to proceed would have to be brought into question on this point alone. An example is the town of Towcester, which becomes congested with HGV traffic on a daily basis, but the Department for Transport is refusing to fund a bypass that will de-trunk the town centre, despite over the years other towns such as Brackley and Stony Stratford getting them.

The point of using the rail network to transport freight has always been to ease the burden on the country's road network. The proposed Rail Central development will achieve the exact opposite of this, as it will focus disproportionate amounts of freight onto the road network in and around Northamptonshire, rather than helping to distribute freight to key parts of the country before it hits the roads.

Finally, this part of the county does not have an unemployment issue. Surely it would be better to locate such a development in an area that's in greater need of additional employment?