A GOVERNMENT-funded flagship scheme to transport construction waste and recycled material by rail has foundered because of poor service from rail freight operators.
Bow Midland Waste Recycling in east London was set up with the help of a £1.7 million freight facilities grant and aimed to handle over 300,000 tonnes of construction waste each year, cutting at least 20,000 lorry movements from London's roads.
But poor service from its rail freight operator EWS has forced managing director David Green to change policy and instead move its waste and recycled materials by road.
He said: 'We have been forced to transfer our waste transport from rail to road. The service we were getting was appalling. In just over 12 months not one train was delivered, sent to landfill and arrived back on time.'
EWS had promised to improve its service following complaints last year.
But now Mr Green aims to switch to road transportation for an interim period until a new rail deal is struck.
He said the company hoped to resume transporting waste by rail by the summer, this time using a different freight operator, Freightliner, and household waste organisation, the East London Waste Authority (ELWA).
'We anticipate linking up with Freightliner and the ELWA. They have a deal to transport waste by rail from Dagenham to landfill at Calvert and we are hoping to 'piggy-back' with some of those trains.'
Mr Green also blasted the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) for wasting money on freight facilities and track access grants that did not serve smaller companies.
He claimed that, rather than freezing grants, the money would have been better spent encouraging small firms to use the rail network.
Meanwhile, other rail network users argued that the freight facilities and track access grant system had encouraged increased use but that this was in jeopardy now it had been frozen.
A spokesman for materials company RMC said: 'We are extremely concerned and bitterly disappointed with the SRA's decisions to suspend grants.
'It makes little sense in the context of a strategy designed to encourage the greater use of rail.'
The SRA reiterated that, although £20 million would be spent in 2004/2005, it had no choice but to suspend grants after funding for them had dried up.