Olympics rail undertakings ‘being ignored’

14 January 2009

ASLEF has complained that an undertaking that 50% of all materials for the Olympic site would be moved by rail freight is being ignored. The ‘Sustainability Plan’ of the 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority includes a statement that it aims that 50% of Olympic Park construction materials by weight will travel by rail or river.


Moreover, Aggregate Industries committed itself to exceed this target when it was awarded the contract to become the sole provider of all the aggregate materials. This involves the delivery of sand, gravel, crushed stone and recycled concrete.


The ODA’s Head of Sustainability Dan Epstein announced at the time that , ‘Aggregate Industries has exceeded the ODA targets by committing to providing over 70% of the materials needed as recycled aggregates and to transport 99% of materials by water or rail.’ Within this, Aggregate Industries undertook that, ‘74% of the aggregate materials will be transported by rail and 25% by water.’


Alan Simpson, the convenor of the ASLEF group of MPs, has written to the department for transport arguing that this needs to be urgently reviewed. Alan stresses, ‘There are 2000 tonnes of steel being sent into the Olympic park each month which could easily be switched to rail as most of it comes from EWS’s existing customers.’


Key concerns for the union have been that

  • Up until December 2008 450,000 tonnes of bulk materials have moved in or out of the main Olympic Park site park by road rather than by rail.
  • Local contractors are not required to meet sustainability targets with the result that 100,000 tonnes of contaminated spoil have been transported across Essex so far.
  • At present around 200,000 tonnes of waste from the washing plants is transported by road at a rate of 1000 tonnes per day to Peterborough.
  • 150,000 tonnes of material have been delivered to the Aquatics centre by road. Originally this was transported by rail but the contractor found a cheaper local option and the Olympic Delivery Authority agreed the material could travel by road.
  • There are 2000 tonnes of steel being sent into the Olympic park each month which could easily be switched to rail as most of it comes from EWS’s existing customers. Rail is not used because there is no consolidation of the material suppliers and contractors pick their supplier on price only. There are numerous products from kerbside materials to insulation which should be transported by rail.


Keith Norman says, ‘It is a matter of grave concern to us that the Olympic traffic has been much less than expected, and could have very serious repercussions especially on train drivers working in EWS.


‘That is why we are calling on the government to ensure that all the commitment about using rail in providing sustainable Olympic construction are met, and are urging the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to require contractors to transport as many materials as possible by rail by consolidating material suppliers.’

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