'First ever' freight train pulls into East Midlands Gateway ahead of launch

A trial ahead of a full freight operation launch has seen the first ever train pull into the East Midlands Gateway terminal. The freight train arrived at the station near to East Midlands Airport at 10.45pm on Tuesday (December 17) and was due to leave again at 6.15am this morning (December 18). It travelled more than 100 miles from Southampton port and was operated by DB Cargo on behalf of Maritime Transport, the company in charge of rail freight at the gateway.

The journey was part of a trial as preparations for scheme's launch continue. Paul Robertson, who works for Network Rail's East Midlands control centre, watched the arrival from the public area where you can see the terminal. The 47-year-old said: "This was the first train that has ever gone in there (the freight terminal).

"The trial was to see how the terminal performs. Officials were riding on the train to see how it was going. "It all seemed to be going well.

The train arrived on time and they were unloading containers before I left."

Paul said the fog started to roll in 15 minutes before the train arrived which meant seeing it 'wasn't as good as it could've been'.

Daily freight journeys will begin on January 6, with two arrivals from the Port of Felixstowe every day. As the operation expands, the terminal will be able to accommodate 16 freight trains as long as 775 metres each per day, from ports including London Gateway and the Channel Tunnel as well as Southampton and Felixstowe. The terminal also has the capacity to store more than 5,000 containers, which is equal to around 45,000 pallets of cargo.

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A spokesperson for Maritime confirmed a train was brought to East Midlands Gateway as part of tests.

He said: "A train was brought successfully onto the East Midlands Gateway site yesterday as part of the testing programme which needs to be carried out on the new track and terminal facility.

"We look forward to beginning operations in early 2020."

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