Last reviewed 14 May 2020

Set to be built near the village of Gailey, plans for a new rail freight hub on land off the M6 in Staffordshire have been given the go-ahead by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

He has approved the Development Consent Order (DCO) for the West Midlands Interchange (WMI) although there is now a period lasting until 15 June 2020 in which the decision may be challenged in the High Court.

The WMI is a proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) with warehousing and other associated development that will be linked directly to the West Coast Main Line, one of the country’s principal rail freight routes, and will be well placed to serve the West Midlands, the Black Country, Staffordshire, Birmingham and the northern M6 corridor.

The project’s developers have argued that the region’s strong manufacturing and exporting businesses need faster, more reliable transport links now and in the future to stay competitive at home and abroad.

Given its environmental benefits, Four Ashes Ltd claim that rail freight offers a more sustainable, efficient and reliable approach to logistics, and is strongly supported by Government policy.

The new hub, on which work is expected to start next year, will allow for the transfer of goods between lorries and trains and requires the creation of a freight terminal, container storage, heavy goods vehicle (HGV) parking, rail-served warehouses and ancillary buildings.

“Leaving the EU will create new challenges and new opportunities for the UK’s trade links,” Four Ashes said in its original application. “Cost reduction, speed and efficiency will be more important than ever.”

The benefits of rail over road will keep the UK’s competitive edge as a gateway to international trade and keep costs to the consumer lower, it concluded.