THE future is even brighter for business at the Port of Blyth with the official opening of a new rail terminal at Battleship Wharf.
The opening of the rail terminal on the north side of the river Blyth marked an important step in port developments and completes the transformation of the site over the last decade from a contaminated wasteland to a modern port terminal.
Wansbeck MP Denis Murphy was due to perform the official opening, driving a freight train through the ribbon and unveiling a plaque in commemoration of the event.
However, Wansbeck Council civic head, Coun Tom Roll, stepped in at the last minute to perform the honour after the politician took ill.
He said: “It is a great honour and a pleasure to be invited here to see this wonderful development.
“To see what has changed here and what has happened over the years, is an amazing transformation.”
The rail link forms part of an 8m investment programme at the port, which includes an extra high capacity mobile harbour carnage and a 155m deep water quay extension to be completed by the end of the year.
It follows a 6.6m spend over the last two years to provide a 135 metre quay extension and over 10,000sq m of bulk warehousing.
Port bosses say commissioning of the rail terminal represents a key milestone in the wider development of the port as it allows bulk materials including coal to be distributed across the UK.
The new facility has an initial capacity of one million tonnes and is capable of handling trains of up to 600 metres long with one train leaving the terminal the equivalent of up to 60 lorry movements.
Port of Blyth chief executive Martin Lawlor said: “This event represents another important step in the development of both Battleship Wharf terminal and the port as a whole, no doubt stimulating further trade growth.
“We are also pleased to play our part in the wider regeneration of the Blyth Estuary, bringing welcome development and related employment opportunities.”