Maritime Transport has won a major contract to become the long-term operator of the West Midlands Interchange’s strategic rail freight interchange (SRFI) on the West Coast Mainline.

The company has signed an exclusive agreement with real estate developers Oxford Properties Group and Logistics Capital Partners, which acquired the West Midlands Interchange (WMI) site in joint venture in 2021.

The SRFI sits alongside 8 million sq ft of prime warehouse facilities at the £1bn WMI project and is central to the success of what is set to be the country’s largest intermodal logistics site.

The first phase of development has already commenced at the 734-acre site, involving earthworks, highways construction, water installation and the creation of two new community parks.

The site is one of a number of new strategic rail freight interchanges around the UK designed to enable occupiers to move increasing volumes of freight off the UK’s roads onto the rail network, with one rail freight carriage capable of replacing 44 to 72 HGVs, and generating up to 70% less carbon.

WMI will also boast a range of other sustainability credentials, including providing 109 acres of country park and a wide range of renewable energy features.

It will also create around 8,500 new jobs for the region during its development, construction and operation, according to the owners.

John Williams, Maritime group executive chairman, said: “As the leading road and rail freight logistics provider in the UK, West Midlands Interchange is the obvious next addition to our rail network.

“Being the long-term operator of WMI fits exactly with our wider strategy of decarbonising the full load supply chain by moving cargo closer to the end user by rail.

“We have already substantially increased container movements by rail, from 6% in 2019 to over 24% in 2023.

“We are committed to this strategy of decarbonising which will lead to the introduction of BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) effecting the first and final mile transport, creating the most sustainable full load supply chain network in the UK.

“As part of the process of preparing to operate from WMI we have submitted a planning application for our site offices.”

James Boadle, Oxford Properties senior vice president, commented: “This next step to create the leading intermodal logistics facility in the UK’s Golden Triangle is a significant one.

”Maritime are the leaders in their field, and WMI is the leading logistics development in the country – the two coming together will deliver a significant boost to the regional and national economy.

“Demand for best-in-class logistics space that’s sustainable and well connected continues to significantly outstrip supply. With WMI poised to reduce up to 50 million kilometres of HGV traffic annually, today marks yet another milestone for a project that exemplifies both Oxford’s conviction in UK logistics, and our commitment to ESG.”

James Markby, Logistics Capital Partners managing partner, said: “Our agreement with Maritime, securing them as the long-term SRFI operator, demonstrates great confidence in the strategic success of West Midlands Interchange.

”The project is key to decarbonising UK logistics, with rail freight producing up to 70% less CO2 emissions compared to road freight and a leading operator like Maritime will ensure it lives up to its potential.”

Established in 2001, Maritime Transport is now a £400m-plus turnover business with a focus on reducing emissions in logistics through its network of rail terminals and alternative fuelled fleet.