Reprieved: North Blyth-bound alumina empties from Fort William pass Achnabobane on the West Highland line behind No 66738 on 25 March 2019. Jamie Squibbs

GB RAILFREIGHT has agreed a contract extension with British Gypsum. The deal covers the continuation of GBRf’s existing service from Southampton to British Gypsum’s plasterboard plant in Robertsbridge along with provision of further terminal services at Robertsbridge and an additional rail flow from AV Dawson in Teesside to British Gypsum’s plant at East Leake, near Loughborough. An average of 10 services will run per week; an ad hoc service has run out of AV Dawson since November 2018. The new deal runs until December 2021.

Meanwhile, GBRf’s contract to haul alumina from North Blyth to Fort William for Liberty British Aluminium has been extended for a further three years. GBRf uses Class 66s on the service, which runs six days a week. The site in Fort William is the only remaining aluminium smelter in the UK. Following the closure of the aluminium works at Lynemouth, close to where the alumina is landed at North Blyth, there was a proposal to offload ships carrying the material for the Fort William works at Loch Linnhe, but reports suggest problems with docking facilities impede this. \