Welsh Affairs CommitteeFurther written evidence from TAITH

Thank you for your letter of 19 June 2012, and the further questions from the Committee.

TAITH has been supportive of all proposals to increase the use of the rail network in North Wales for freight movements. Our view remains that there is spare capacity that can be utilised and using this capacity would be preferable to increased freight traffic by road, where this is possible. Detailed studies have been prepared on the options for moving slate waste by rail using the Conwy Valley line, funded largely by the public sector. Because of these detailed studies that assessed both the market for the slate and the infrastructure I understand there was a view that little more could be added by undertaking further work as part of the rail freight study. This should not be interpreted, however, as TAITH not being positive about the potential for transporting slate waste by rail in the future.

In response to the specific points you raise in your letter:

1.The project team responsible for the study in 2009 identified the 13 options through a review process and consultation with stakeholders. The reasons for not including the proposal to move slate waste by rail along the Conwy Valley line are set out above and were based on the view that little more information could be gained in view of the previous studies completed.

2.The choice of which schemes were studied further was made by the Taith Board in conjunction with the Welsh Assembly. The slate waste project had been studied in more detail by other consultants. The choice of which schemes were studied further by no means pre-judges final outcomes and if there is demand by the private sector to use rail for the movement of slate waste then this could be re-examined.

3.I understand the use of the Conwy valley line was considered as part of the development of the North Wales Waste Treatment Project. The waste partnerships are seeking to use rail where viable but it must be affordable within the overall project. Developing a new rail head for southern Gwynedd for a projected small tonnage of waste (15ktpa) would make this particular rail head operation very costly. Costs were seen as the main barrier to this potential solution. If there were other rail freight proposals that came forward to share the infrastructure costs then this option could be reviewed. However, it is worth noting that the potential rail solutions under consideration by the project are more costly than a road based solution.

June 2012

Prepared 5th March 2013