NETWORK RAIL has earmarked a site in Sandwell as the location for a new sleeper factory.

The railway sidings at Bescot have been chosen because of their location and the fact that the factory can be directly connected to the rail network. NR says the site, if approved, will produce up to 600,000 sleepers per year, accounting for 60% of Britain’s supply, with the remainder coming from its other factory at Doncaster, which opened in December 2013. It adds that the site will secure up to 100 jobs in the West Midlands. The aim is to award a 15-year contract to manufacture sleepers this spring.