Rail hub plans could be submitted by July

PLANS for a rail freight hub in South Holland could be submitted to the district council before the summer, it has been revealed.

A mystery developer is currently working on the controversial project, although it has not yet been confirmed whether it will be based at South Holland District Council’s preferred site at Deeping St Nicholas.

It has also been confirmed Spalding-based haulage firm Fowler Welch has already secured a deal to operate the hub, should it go ahead.

Fowler Welch managing director Nick Hay said: “There is a developer who is working on a rail hub, which in reality is little more than a rail siding.

“We have an agreement to operate the hub should it go ahead. If the hub goes ahead it will not increase traffic into South Holland, merely change how it gets here; ultimately reducing trucks and miles on the road.”

He added: “I do not see it generating huge employment opportunities, though I strongly believe it will protect jobs in South Holland.”

The Lincolnshire Free Press understands South Holland District Council is anticipating a planning application to be made within the first half of 2012.

Upgrades to the railway around South Holland are already in the pipeline through Network Rail, with plans to provide the capacity to divert freight trains off the main line and through Spalding – something it describes as a “key enabler” for the rail hub project.

The upgrades must be completed by April 2014 when the current funding period ends with the Government.

A Network Rail spokesman confirmed they have been working with South Holland District Council for the rail hub scheme.

She said: “We are working with them to help identify how it can fit with the wider network and – if they can finalise their plans in time – we can provide passive provision for it within our own scheme which should help to minimise costs and disruption.

“Though it may not look much more than a siding it has the potential to remove many lorries from the local roads by creating an interchange for road vehicles and trains in the transportation of fresh produce.”

In November, campaigners handed a petition with more than 850 signatures against Deeping St Nicholas being the preferred site for a rail freight hub.