A new £45 million railway line north of Doncaster has opened.
GB Railfreight was the first operator to officially use the newly-constructed North Doncaster Chord, which was recently completed by Network Rail.
The 3.2km double track chord links the Skellow and Askern lines and allows freight trains to travel over the East Coast Main Line, instead of crossing it on the level and reducing capacit. It also prevents them from conflicting with passenger services.
At full capacity it is expected around 30 coal trains each day will go over the link during their journey between Immingham docks and the Aire Valley power stations.
The centrepiece is a 246m-long six-span viaduct at Shaftholme connecting the Grimsby–Doncaster and Doncaster–Knottingley lines.
Before the chord opened, freight had to run on the busy East Coast Main Line for 14 miles from Applehurst to Hambleton South before turning off and heading for the power stations.
By separating freight and passengers it prevents slow moving freight from delaying passenger services as well as reducing fuel costs by providing freight with a more direct route.
Doncaster North Chord is part of a £600 million package of work on the ECML to improve reliability.
It involved 500,000 tonnes of constructed earthworks and the Joan Croft level crossing was closed and replaced with a bridge.
Freight trains travelling between Humber ports and the power stations can avoid having to run on the ECML for up to 22km.
GB Railfreight managing director John Smith said: “We are delighted to be the first rail freight operator to run on this important new North Doncaster Chord. “It’s a great example of a new Government infrastructure project bringing benefits to both the freight and passenger industries, improving capacity on the ECML as well as trans-Pennine links between ports and power stations in the region.
“It also signifies GB Railfreight’s intentions to support the Government’s policies around sustainability and more carbon-friendly rail transport.”