Network Rail has significantly changed its plans for a new sleeper facility in Bescot following feedback from local people.

After extensive engagement with residents, councillors and MPs – including those whose properties back directly onto the rail yard – the design has been changed to minimise the impact on local people.

The new proposal addresses the main areas of concern raised including closeness to residential properties, visual impact and traffic levels.

Plans are currently being developed and a further round of engagement will take place ahead of a formal planning application to Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council in 2019.

The new plans include:

  • Relocating the facility east of the original site towards Sandy Lane and Tame Bridge Parkway station, 500m further away from houses on Westmore Way.
  • Building a new link road that will take traffic to the facility direct from the A4031, to avoid passing any houses on Sandy Lane.
  • Directing vehicle movements to the site from Junction 1 of the M5, while vehicles leaving the site will use the original route back to Junction 9 of the M6.

Rob Morton, supply chain operations director for Network Rail, said: “Bescot remains the preferred location for this facility but having listened to the concerns raised with us, it was clear changes had to be made.

“We went back to the drawing board and reworked our proposals so the impact on the area is even less than before. This is a vital facility for the rail industry but we want to do all we can to deliver it with the least impact on the surrounding area.”

Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “We met with local people and listened to what they have said. We want to be a good neighbour and our new proposal addresses many of the concerns raised.

“Having stood with local people in the back gardens of houses which back directly onto the rail yard, it was clear the original plan was not acceptable. The different location, the improved traffic management plan and new vehicle access makes this proposal a much better option.”

Network Rail will carry out a further Environmental Impact Assessment before a planning application is submitted to the local authority.

Bescot remains the preferred site for the sleeper facility because of its location at the heart of the rail network. This makes it quicker, greener and more cost efficient to transport the sleepers to help maintain and develop the network as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan.

A further public information event will take place in early 2019.