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Network Rail deal signals final piece of £12.5m expansion

Multimodal specialist, AV Dawson, has signed a strategic deal with Network Rail which has given the firm control of the full rail sidings which link its entire 80-acre site to the East Coast Mainline.

The deal, to manage the neighbouring seven-acre Middlesbrough Goods Yard, comes as the Teesside firm has completed work on its £12.5m expansion plans which have seen the creation of a new deepwater river Tees quay; a rail freight terminal the Tees Riverside Intermodal Park (TRIP) and huge, state-of-the-art automotive steel store.

It means Dawson’s customers can take advantage of using the firm as a single supplier – from mainline rail through to, road, sea terminal or warehouse; reducing costs through improved efficiencies and the integrated infrastructure.

The 99-year lease to manage the goods yard site includes all the operational rail sidings and will form an integral part of the overall intermodal logistics operation at Dawson’s Riverside Park HQ. The family-run firm plans to spend £500,000 on renewals and improvements over the next five years.

Gary Dawson, AV Dawson’s managing director, said: “Taking ownership of the Middlesbrough Goods Yard strategically underpins the investments we have made over recent years in building three additional rail served facilities, all of which rely on the goods yard for main line connection.

“It gives our investors and customers increased confidence in our business model and in their rail served supply chains. Having such a vested interest means that we are committed to improving the integrity of the yard, and plan to expand its capacity through redesign and the laying of additional track. Work on these improvements will begin over the next few weeks.”

Another opportunity, allied to the main Goods Yard deal, has seen AV Dawson take over responsibility for maintaining the point of connection and the private infrastructure of Cobra Middlesbrough Ltd, which operates a dry bulk handling terminal offering additional value added processing and packing services.

Gary Dawson added: “I’m sure that working closer with Cobra Middlesbrough Ltd will only serve to strengthen the position of both companies within the Teesside rail freight industry and we hope to identify further synergies and business opportunities together in the future.”

Andrew Padley, managing director of Cobra Middlesbrough Ltd, said: “Since Cobra started operation in Middlesbrough in 1982, we’ve worked closely alongside AV Dawson and are delighted that they’re taking responsibility for the running of the sidings operations.

“We’ve good relations between our two companies and look forward to cooperating together for many years to come. This is a wonderful opportunity to maximise the utilisation of this Middlesbrough facility.”

The Network Rail deal marks a new model of freight infrastructure ownership, where rail freight end users take direct control of the management and investment in the siding infrastructure which supports their rail business.

Guy Bates, head of freight development, for Network Rail said: “These sidings are a critical holding and marshalling point for traffic originating from and destined to Cobra and Dawson’s railheads.

“The long term programme of revitalisation and enhancement will see this legacy yard’s layout progressively transformed to be capable of handling the growing traffic base of modern length freight trains.”

The Network Rail team worked closely with Dawson’s and Cobra to coordinate a new robust Safe System of Work to incorporate multiple freight operators, secure the extension to Dawson’s licence exemption with ORR (Office of Rail Regulation) and advising on prioritising trackworks.

AV Dawson opened its new £6.5m steel store in February this year which will be greatly supported by the acquisition of the goods yard.

Gary Dawson continued: “Now we have ownership of the goods yard we can make some much needed improvements to the infrastructure, raising the standards of the tracks to meet the increased traffic and greater train lengths, improving cost efficiency for our customers.

“This infrastructure will secure the future for AV Dawson and enable us to build greater relationships with the freight operators and grow our support to the rail industry as a whole.”

Dawson is a key player in the automotive steel logistics industry across the North East and more than 270,000 tonnes of steel per year will arrive by rail from Tata Steel in Port Talbot, South Wales before eventually heading by road to Sunderland-based car giant Nissan on the back of Dawson’s specialist steel coil carrying trailers.

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