This week, Fox Group began their expansion into rail, with the opening of their railhead at Leyland, Lancashire. The railhead sidings, which were initially built in 1953, were relayed in 2018 and utilised by Network Rail for storage during the Blackpool electrification scheme. The takeover and opening of the railhead by Fox Group has been in the works for over two years, with the teams working closely with Lancashire County Council to get the railhead back to its intended purposes.
Monday 9th January saw the first train utilise the newly opened railhead, arriving from Tunstead at 22:42, loaded with aggregates. The Freightliner train held 1800 tonnes of material, the equivalent of 95 x 8 wheeler loads. The material will now be distributed out to customers via the groups wagons.
The railhead allows the group to further enhance their sustainability initiatives, due to rail allowing larger amounts of material to be delivered in a much more efficient and greener way. Fox Group made headlines in June of 2022, when they welcomed the UK’s first Electric tipper wagons, the wagons, two Volvo FE Electric 6×2 tippers, are based out of the groups Leyland depot. By utilising the electric wagons with the groups railhead operations, they are cutting their carbon emissions massively, making a more sustainable way for hauling products. In recent years, the group have made a conscious effort to cut their carbon emissions, through multiple electric plant machinery, their electric wagons and now by utilising the railhead, they have also invested in further electric wagons which will be delivered later this year.
The train, Freightliner 6N42 19:02 Tunstead-Leyland, was routed through Chinley and New Mills on what was part of the old Manchester Midland Main Line between Manchester and London. It then passed through Altrincham before joining the West Coast Main Line just south of Warrington and heading north through Warrington and Wigan before arriving at Leyland.
The railhead sidings were built in 1953, specifically to manufacture the Centurion Tank at the outbreak of the Korean War, managed by the Ministry of Supply. The sidings were then taken over by Leyland Motors in 1956, superseded by British Leyland, who used the sidings until 1986, bringing in car and bus parts for the factories on the business park. The siding then remained in use bringing in various parts up until around 1997.
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