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Lafarge derails piggyback scheme

MATERIALS

CEMENT supplier Lafarge has shelved plans to use a road-rail transportation system to ship material around the UK.

The materials giant had been trialling an innovative 'Piggyback' intermodal transport system, in which cement-carrying articulated lorry trailers are hoisted onto specially designed 'Mega-3' rail wagons.

These wagons are then towed to central freight depots where the trailers are unloaded and driven away.

But now Lafarge has decided it has no suitable use for the system and has made the wagons available to other firms.

Lafarge planning director David Simms said: 'We do not have a suitable project presently to use the Intermodal M3 rail wagons and this innovative equipment is available to organisations that may have a use for it.'

Lafarge was awarded £3 million to develop the piggyback system in February 2000 after winning funding from rail freight development group the Strategic Rail Authority.

Under grant rules the funding was provided on the condition that Blue Circle, now part of the Lafarge business, could deliver and test the system within 6 months, but testing did not begin until 2002.