For a year, bosses have been studying the possibility of delivering and collecting freight from the Kitt Green plant using trains running along the Manchester-Southport line which easily runs alongside the site.
Earlier this year, a nighttime experiment – after the last passenger trains until morning had passed safely – was organized to examine the feasibility of stopping a locomotive and wagons there for loading and unloading. . Later it was declared a “complete success”.
It would be part of a railway line from the Netherlands (where Heinz has another major factory in Elst) via Hull and proponents of the project say it would speed up product transport and be much better for the environment.
As the Wigan Observer recently reported, Heinz management and workers have been locked in a dispute over what contract changes the company wants to make if it decides to expand its operations to Wigan and bring back production from gravy in the UK.
The Unite union has recommended its members support the changes, but a majority of workers voted against it and Kraft-Heinz now says it could take the matter elsewhere, although talks to find a compromise continue.
Company bosses, however, say the sauce deal has no bearing on whether or not the rail project will continue – the latter being more about the company’s carbon footprint.
The residents of Kitt Green have not been asked to comment on the railroad project at this point, but one of the local issues is certainly the large quantities of trucks coming and going along Spring Road in from the M6, so anything to reduce road traffic in the area could well be welcome.
The company is still at the stage of deciding whether the creation of a “pad” or a cladding is viable. If so, detailed plans will be drawn up.
Of the experiment, a Kraft-Heinz spokesperson said: “The test was a simulation that involved a locomotive and 30 unloaded cradles.
“There was no need to run real containers because there was no way to unload at this point.
“The train was due to arrive just after the last passenger train of the day crossed the piece of track next to the National Distribution Center.
“It was around 11:30 pm. There was a series of locomotive movements and testing of safety procedures like signaling, point management, level crossings, etc., then a mock shuffle (six cradles at a time) every 30 minutes.
“The warehouse teams also simulated and timed internal site movements to ensure that the target times per container move met requirements.
“The trial was a complete success both on time and in testing our security procedures and the next step will be to work with business partners to build a business case together.
“The project revolves around the feasibility of creating a“ rail-pad ”on the ground between the railroad itself and the National Distribution Center.
“This will progress if a commercially viable business case can be developed. “
Kraft-Heinz is supported by the Institute of Logistics at the University of Hull to improve its freight movements across Europe. The Liverpool-Humber Freight Optimization Program is designed to make it easier to transport Heinz products from the Netherlands to Kitt Green.
As part of the project, the products were transported by rail through the Humber harbor complex.
Professor Amar Ramudhin, director of the Institute of Logistics at the University of Hull, said this was done to make the program as “green” as possible.
“The University of Hull is at the forefront of accelerating a net zero future,” he said.
“The Wigan Railroad opens up new opportunities for property owners and service providers to work together to develop new, low-carbon transportation routes. “
The project is also partnering with Oxford Rail Strategies, with the aim of developing a rail freight solution for transporting products from Elst to Wigan. The overnight experience followed a consultation with UK rail freight operator Freightliner and Network Rail.
Emma Dempsey, Freightliner, said: “As the largest carbon neutral traction operator, we are continually developing solutions to achieve decarbonization goals, in collaboration with business partners and customers, and we have been delighted to be part of the team to test this. potential modal shift to rail.
Karla Jakeman, Connected Transport at Innovate UK, added: “This is a very positive development for the project. It’s always exciting when projects can demonstrate innovation in practice.
“I can’t wait to see how this plays out in the future.”
Heinz spokesman said he hoped he could make an update in 2022.
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