Import of 108m rail from Spain to UK via Solent Gateway Limited Port at Marchwood
In 2015, Solent Gateway Limited (SGL) was approached to consider the potential of a trading route from Spain to the UK for 108m rail by sea. 108m rail is a product utilised by the UK rail industry for replacement, upgrade and new rail infrastructure construction within the UK. Rails are welded end to end to produce 216m pieces which are then taken by rail wagon to the required locations for installation across the rail network. Benefits of installation of longer rails are an increase in reliability, reduced requirement for maintenance, reduced deviation in extremes of temperature, less noise and a more comfortable ride for passengers.
SGL’s challenge was to ascertain, whether it was a feasible proposal to import such a long commodity in sufficient quantity, safety and effectively by sea. 108m rail is a challenging commodity to handle because of its length, unlike shorter rails which have been imported and exported by sea for many years. SGL assessed the business, consulted with rail industry experts and altered the port rail infrastructure in order to facilitate the transfer of this commodity to a stow position within the port and then to feed it into the welding facility in Eastleigh, 10 miles away. February 2018 saw the first 108m rails successfully lifted from the vessel and transferred to the other end of the port on rail wagons by locomotives operated by SGL staff. The concept was proven to be feasible and SGL was the first UK port used for the import of 108m rails.
This case study demonstrates SGL’s breadth of capability, its agility to react to any sort of loads and the professionalism and versatility of its staff.