Investing locally,
delivering nationally

How Rail Central will operate

SRFIs are logistics and distribution hubs that efficiently manage the movement, processing and storage of freight travelling regionally, nationally and internationally.

How Rail Central will operate

They interchange freight from rail to road and vice versa. This:

• Encourages long-distance freight to use railways rather than roads

• Reduces congestion on the road network by using rail for the majority of its journey

• Reduces carbon emissions and helps to protect the environment and meet climate targets

The Rail Central team has engaged with Network Rail over several years to inform the development of the proposals and advance the project through Network Rail's feasibility assessments. Like all other SRFIs built to date, Rail Central will increase the number of trains gradually over time in line with customer requirements and network capability, starting with four trains a day and making use of off-peak and overnight capacity on the network. This will ensure there is no sudden spike in rail freight levels or congestion or disruption on the railway.

Rail Central will include an intermodal freight terminal on the Northampton Loop Line and an Express Freight Terminal on the West Coast Main Line, together with a train maintenance depot. At maturity the site could generate the equivalent of 13 intermodal trains in and out per day.

Key freight routes and interchanges


  • Connected to the Northampton Loop Line and accessible from both directions
  • Trains will pass directly into the intermodal terminal to facilitate fast turnaround of trains off the main line
  • Trains up to 775m long (maximum UK length)
  • Cargo transferred using six rail sidings and three gantry cranes
  • Also allows transfer, storage and distribution of containers for other operators


  • Uniquely for an SRFI, Rail Central will also include an express freight terminal
  • Providing direct access to the West Coast Main Line
  • Express freight trains will be able to access from both directions and pull in at faster speeds
  • The terminal allows goods to be transferred quicker than traditional rail freight services


  • Rail Central will also have a centre that maintains and fuels freight trains off the main line
  • It will also provide administrative and security facilities for staff and visitors

Plan of key operating facilities at Rail Central