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Lafarge Cement UK supports Crossrail with new rail link

World Cement,

Rail link opened at Northfleet

Lafarge Cement UK has been keeping busy. Last week it’s Northfleet rail link, which connects the North Kent Line with the former Lafarge Cement plant at Northfleet, was officially opened by Thames Gateway Minister, Bob Neill. The £13.5 million freight link will be used to transport excavated material from the construction of London’s Crossrail tunnels out of the capital. From Northfleet, the material will be loaded onto a ship for transfer up the River Thames to a new RSPB nature reserve at Wallasea Island in Essex.

Sustainability in motion

The line is about 2.25 km long and required 4.75 km of new track. Already, 10 000 t of excavated material have been received at Northfleet. In total, more than 1 million t of earth are expected to be excavated, and the rail line will remove at least 50 000 lorry journeys from central London.

Thames Gateway Minister Bob Neill said:  "I'm delighted to be here at the celebrations for the reopening of this vital rail line…This project is now going to provide support for the building of Crossrail, proving that the Thames Gateway is well and truly open for business."

David Simms, Land and Planning Director for Lafarge Cement, said: "Crossrail's involvement in Northfleet has been a major catalyst in enabling the construction of this new freight line, which will play a leading role in transporting excavated material from the new tunnels. The new rail link forms the second stage of Lafarge’s regeneration of the 104-acre site where a new residential and business community will be created, enhancing Northfleet’s connections to the River Thames.” 

At the peak of tunnelling up to five freight trains a day will be operated by GB Railfreight from Westbourne Park in west London carrying a total of 7000 t of earth. Once the Crossrail excavations are completed, the Northfleet site is intended for use as an Aggregates Terminal, which could export up to 1.2 million tpa by rail.

Modernised packing line

Meanwhile, further north, Lafarge Cement’s Barnstone Plant received a visit from Local MP and Cabinet member Ken Clarke, who was invited to officially unveil a state-of-the-art cement packer. The Barnstone Plant blends and packages a unique range of over 26 ready-to-use cement-based products, mostly for the DIY market.

The new packer significantly increases the output of the plant, and is the latest in a series of expansion and refurbishment projects, including an upgrade of the administration centre and the installation of a new sand dryer. In total, Lafarge has invested £6.8 million in the Barnstone plant to ensure its complete modernisation and job security for the 60 people working at the plant.

Chris Stephens, Lafarge Cement's Barnstone Plant Manager said: "Whilst the construction industry currently faces real challenges, our new sophisticated packer will support new secured business and provide capacity and flexibility for future business."

Adapted from press releases by Katherine Markham

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