WELSH timber will be permanently carried on the main rail route through Powys after trials were deemed successful.

The "discrete" trials between Aberystwyth and Chirk's Kronospan factory have seen the firm Colas Rail UK sign a contract to make the arrangement permanent.

The additional service has been described as "environmentally friendly", and has been made possible with the help of Network Rail, being the first regular locomotive-hauled freight service to use the scenic Cambrian Line in more than 25 years.

Trials in April took 800 tonnes of round logs on a 100-mile trip to Chirk, and the success of this led to a permanent contract.

Colas said: "After a successful trial in late April, with Network Rail’s Class 97 fleet operated by our freight team along with support from our Class 37s, the service was rolled out a to haul of timber from Aberystwyth through to the Kronospan manufacturing plant in Chirk, North Wales on a weekly basis."

Due to the road truck driver shortage in the UK the timber traffic being brought to rail helps to alleviate those issues.

"The service removes sixteen heavy goods vehicles from the road, saving a quarter of a tonne in carbon." added Colas.

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Other successful trials have taken place, going all the way to far north of Scotland, which is a great opportunity for the freight business to expand.

Simon Ball, Colas Rail UK, at the time of the initial trials from Aberystwyth, said: "Working with the client and Network Rail, I’m convinced that we can move forward and build on the success of the trial.

"This is a great opportunity to expand our freight business."