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Newly reopened railhead back at heart of the action

West Drayton railhead

Ashville Group re-establish a dedicated railhead to serve construction markets in West London

BASED in West Drayton, near Heathrow Airport, Ashville Aggregates and Ashville Concrete – part of the Ashville Group of companies – are among the key suppliers of primary and recycled aggregate materials and ready-mixed concrete to London, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and the surrounding areas.

With its prime location west of the capital, company director Daniel Ashville Louisy recognized the group was well placed to serve major emerging infrastructure projects, such as HS2, Heathrow expansion and motorway upgrades, but knew the challenge was how to supply the quantity of aggregates required.

A number of quarries and railheads produce and import aggregates close to Ashville’s main site, but with many of these already operating at capacity servicing existing clients, Ashville found they were having to collect material from sources further afield.

However, as their own site was previously a railhead used by Aggregate Industries and others for importing aggregates and exporting construction spoil, Ashville set about determining the feasibility of restoring rail access and creating a new railhead at the site.

Fortunately, the mainline connection to Network Rail’s Colnbrook branch line was still in place and that most of the former trackwork on site had been covered with a protective layer of fill by the landowner.

Negotiations commenced with Network Rail – who were keen to see the site returned to rail use, as were the local planning authorities – and specialist rail-freight consultants Intermodality were drafted in to help draw up a new track layout for the site, to maximize the length of trains that could be handled and to develop a Safe Method of Working procedure for the movement of trains on and off the mainline and within the site itself.

As Daniel Ashville Louisy began discussions with the various rail-freight operating companies, contractors KGJ Price were engaged to recover the buried trackwork, replace any life-expired components and relay the track to the new layout.

The track works were completed within a matter of weeks and, on 20 June this year, the first train to make its way on to the site – the 120-tonne GB Railfreight locomotive 66775 HMS Argyll – ran along the full extent of the sidings. The first loaded train arrived on 16 July, marking the start of regular train deliveries comprising 24 box wagons, each of which is capable of transporting up to 75 tonnes of material.

Now connected with the rest of the country, Ashville are able to supply the West London market with materials that have been bulk delivered to their dedicated railhead in 1,800-tonne shipments from various rail-linked quarries and marine import facilities.

According to Ashville, the use of rail takes up to 90 HGV loads off the road network for every train operated, reducing emissions per tonne-km by three-quarters. Moreover, the railhead is now safeguarded for future generations and capable of handling a wide range of bulk and unitized products to service the ever-expanding local construction market.

The final part of the jigsaw saw the upgrading of Ashville’s truck fleet to Euro 6 vehicles as well as investment in new plant machinery. The company has signed up to long-term partnerships with Scania UK and Liebherr to provide vehicles and plant machinery featuring the latest in efficiency and safety equipment, all of which will be on full repair and maintenance contracts with the manufacturers to ensure reliability and longevity.

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