Hope Construction Materials has unveiled 48 state-of-the-art rail wagons, developed in partnership with VTG Rail UK.

The vehicles were officially launched at an event at the Hope Works cement plant in Hope Valley, Derbyshire, with the ribbon cut by Under Secretary of State for Transport Andrew Jones MP.

The tailor-made wagons, which represent an annual investment of £1m over a period of 11 years, have been developed with an enhanced capacity, and can each carry 80 tonnes - more than twice the standard payload of 36 tonnes. This will increase the capacity of each train to 1,850 tonnes of cement, 500 tonnes more than the previous models.

With fewer rail wagons transporting increased cargo, Hope will be able to deploy fewer trains, while ensuring that the two thirds of the total annual production of cement – one million tonnes – is delivered throughout the UK using the rail network.

Using the enhanced fleet, Hope will continue to transport cement to construction projects around the UK, using the major depots at Theale, Walsall and Dewsbury.

Trains will also ship to Hope’s Dagenham depot, where new packing facilities will allow the firm to put cement in their own bags for the first time.

In the first year alone, Hope will see a reduction of almost 20% in trains deployed, falling from 768 in 2015 to 627 in 2016, in line with the company’s commitment to sustainability and reduced carbon emissions.

Moving one million tonnes of cement per year by rail ensures Hope removes over 33,000 truckloads from local roads during the same period. In addition, the wagons have a modern design and shorter, wheel based bogies, ensuring that they emit less noise and therefore minimise impact on surrounding communities.

Also in attendance at the opening were local MP Andrew Bingham, chairman of the Rail Freight Group Lord Tony Berkeley, representatives from VTG Rail UK and a number of Community Liaison Committee members.

Ashley Bryan, industrial director at Hope Construction Materials, said: “We are delighted to unveil this project which will result in greater efficiency and sustainability of our rail operations throughout the UK.

“Cement is the lifeblood of UK construction and key to economic development. This new deal will see Hope able to transport bigger payloads in fewer journeys, benefitting both our customers throughout Britain, but also the environment. We look forward to realising the benefits of these state-of-the-art wagons.

“Our cement will be transported by rail to our new Dagenham plant, which is set to open in the second quarter of 2016, to then be bagged and sent on to customers throughout Britain, which is something we are particularly excited about.”

Transport Minister Andrew Jones, concluded: “It is a pleasure to officially unveil these new rail wagons. I am pleased to see the industry making great steps towards improving the environmental impact of their freight traffic, with more efficient, cleaner and quieter wagons, and I wish them every success in their future operations.”