A HEREFORDSHIRE firm has been involved in a successful trial to transport timber by railway – the first time a delivery by rail has been made in 18 years.

Pontrilas Sawmills was involved in a trial with Euroforest Ltd, an independent timber harvesting company, and Colas Rail to deliver the 400 tonnes of timber from Newton Abbot in Devon.

Colas Rail's freight division said the trial was part of exploring new ways to reduce carbon footprint after the sawmills previously transporting its materials by road.

Colas Rail provided what it called a sustainable solution in the form of Class 70 locos to haul the cargo across 130 miles from Devon to the sawmills, based on Herefordshire border near Abergavenny.

The trial was the first in more than five years for Euroforest in moving timber by rail as it explores new options as opposed to using road haulage vehicles, with Pontrilas Sawmills last receiving a delivery by rail in 2004.

Speaking about the trial, Colas Rail UK freight director Simon Ball said: "This is a great opportunity to provide a sustainable alternative in operating on rail, especially as we lead the field in the transportation of timber by rail.

"We are acting to contribute to net zero targets, in line with the objectives of our group in promoting rail freight and in reducing the number of HGVs on the road, especially during the shortage of drivers.

"Working with the client and Network Rail, I'm convinced that we can move forward and build on the success of the trial."

Rob Blackmore, Network Rail's local operations manager for the Severn and Gwent area said: "It has been a real team effort to get the trial off the drawing board and onto the rails.

It will further enhance Network Rail's drive to decarbonise the UK."

Mark Williams, Euroforest's director of operations for England and Wales said: "The difficulties with road transport of goods has been highly publicised over the last couple of years.

"Moving roundwood timber by rail is a great solution to this problem. Rail transport provides an efficient and environmentally friendly method of moving bulk loads to our customers."