Director of developer of Northampton depot project says work could start next year

James Digby was speaking at a Built Environment Networking event
James Digby was speaking at a Built Environment Networking event

The developer of one of the two potential rail freight depots south of Northampton told a conference work could start on site next year, with the first occupiers taking space in 2021.

James Digby, director of Ashfield Land, was speaking at the Guildhall during a Built Environment Networking event on Northampton development plans in 2018.

He said that his company's Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) would be the UK’s only one able to handle and maintain freight trains, which could reduce the need for empty train journeys on the main line.

“We have the right place, we have the road network and most important we have the West Coast Main Line where it splits," said Mr Digby.

He added Rail Central’s location, which is near where the west coast line forks, means it would be the only rail freight interchange to have access to two separate mainline electrified main railway routes with enough headroom to accommodate tall containers.

In addition, he said there are not enough lines to create the national network of interconnected sites that could support the large volumes of traffic required for rail to become more a more viable freight option.

"There is a need for more so we can have proper network of rail-led schemes around the country," said Mr Digby, who reckons the 688-acre site has the potential to accommodate up to 8 million sq ft of space.

Ashfield Land is due to submit the Rail Central plans this summer following a second phase of consultation this spring.

Subject to receiving consent, work could start in 2019 though there is considerable opposition to the proposals from residents and county councillors.