Red granite from Scotland, green trains to the world
The rich red granite that runs through the Lanarkshire hills of Scotland is the feedstock for Cloburn Quarry. That distinctive stone has found uses throughout Scotland, the rest of the UK, and Europe. Best of all, the bulk of the quarry’s rosy red granite is delivered by very green freight trains.
Granite from Cloburn Quarry in Scotland has been finding its way onto the national rail network – literally. The loads of stone aggregates dispatched from the nearby Ravenstruther railhead are only part of the story. Cloburn granite has been favoured by Network Rail, the UK infrastructure agency, as ideal ballast for permanent way maintenance and renewal. So now trains from Cloburn are running over tracks laid on Cloburn granite. Some of those loads are also finding their home far away. There’s even a corner of the Netherlands known as the Red Scottish Mountain.
Heavy rock trains on song in harmony
It’s something of a specialist flow – aggregates from Scotland via a short sea crossing to the Netherlands. No surprise then that the specialist flow specialists Colas Rail have been the rail freight haulier of choice for Cloburn Quarry. Gary McGuigan, the Commercial Manager at Cloburn Quarry, took advantage of the company’s decision to purchase the nearby Ravenstruther railhead. That deal sealed, it was only a matter of time before the chunky class 70 heavy haul locomotives in Colas colours of black, orange and yellow were destined for daily visits to the red-washed South Lanarkshire location, just off the West Coast Main Line.
The horseshoe-shaped, dual-track Ravenstruther terminal is adjacent to the town of Lanark and a short haul from Carstairs Junction. The formation at Carstairs was recently remodelled as part of a project promoted by Scotland’s Railway and delivered by Network Rail. The revised layout at Carstairs allows more speeding metal from passenger expresses and accommodates the heavy rock trains from Cloburn.
“The loading terminal allows us to serve our customers all over the UK and Europe”, says Gary McGuigan. “It is fantastic news to see more freight making its way back to the national rail network in light of the reduction over recent years, not to mention the inevitable reduction in carbon emissions.”
Cloburn on tour and bulk export by rail freight
Making quarrying environmentally friendly may seem as incongruous as striking an oil deal at a climate conference. Nevertheless, the ethical motives behind Cloburn make a difference in the face of a world crying out for quality construction materials delivered from the Scottish countryside. Cloburn took the view that the short, 3-mile (4.8 km) haul to the repurposed Ravenstruther railhead (a former coal handling facility) made more sense for them and the environment. Not only that, the bulk handling capacity of rail freight is good for business. That’s been vindicated by a profitable and growing international export market.
Reflecting on the success of moving commercial quantities of that distinctive granite by rail, Gary McGuigan led a party from the company on a recent overseas trip to oversee landing a delivery in the Netherlands. “A few lucky members of the Cloburn management team visited our friends and longstanding customers Rotim – Doordenkers in Grondstoffen in Amsterdam”, he said. “From Scotland to the Netherlands, the quality is there for all to see. The Red Mountains, as known locally, sit on the quayside for multiple projects in the Netherlands and throughout Europe.” The onward journey may well also be on Cloburn quarried granite. Watch out for the red beneath the rails.