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Application for sleeper facility submitted for Bescot

Words: Laura Edgar
Bescto Sleeper Facility / Network Rail

Network Rail has submitted a planning application for a railway sleeper production facility in Bescot.

The proposed facility should provide up to 600,000 railway sleepers every year, 60 per cent of Britain’s annual requirement.

While preparing the submission, the organisation engaged with local people and politicians, including briefings, public information events and meeting with residents at their homes to discuss the plans.

This feedback helped shape the final planning application, which will be decided by Sandwell Borough Council.

Changes from the original plan include the relocation of the proposed site 600m to the east – putting it further away from local properties – and building a link road to both improve access and remove the impact of vehicles on adjacent homes.

The new facility is a part of Britain’s Railway Upgrade Plan. It is expected to create 150 construction jobs locally, and up to 100 permanent jobs at the site and in the local supply chain. Network Rail estimate that 90 per cent of construction spend on the project will be through local businesses.

Anthony Marley, programme director at Network Rail, said: “This new facility will bring millions of pounds to the local economy and support hundreds of jobs in the West Midlands. We have already seen significant interest in these jobs, with approximately half of respondents welcoming these new employment prospects. We will continue to work with Sandwell council as our application progresses.”

Sleepers are currently manufactured at two locations in Britain - Doncaster and Washwood Heath in Birmingham, but the Washwood Heath site is due to close, hence the requirement for a new facility.

Image credit | Network Rail