Stobart on track for six new rail services

Eddie Stobart is looking to launch another six train services this year to add to its existing rail freight operation for retailer Tesco, according to chief executive Andrew Tinkler. He says that two services from the Midlands are "very close" to launch and will hopefully be announced within the next month. Tinkler adds: "They reduce truck miles and save fuel, so they work both environmentally and commercially." However, Tinkler stresses that a rail service can only work if it attains 100% utilisation for both legs of the journey.

On the Tesco operation, which sends one train per day from Daventry to Grange-mouth, five days a week, Tesco freight is loaded on the northbound journey and then a mix of Tesco and other customers' products for the return leg. Tinkler says that the firm will look to work with customers to switch freight to non-road modes where possible. It is currently planning to upgrade its facility at the Port of Weston near Widnes to allow it to accept feeder ships, but Tinkler says that this will not proceed without customer backing.

He also revealed that the group wouldn't rule out future acquisitions if the right opportunity presented itself. Last week the firm announced pre-tax profit of £3.5m in the year to 29 February (MT 15 May), although Tinkler prefers to use another figure, the Earnings After Fleet Financing Costs (EAFFC), which was £5.4m for Stobart Group, £9.5m for Eddie Stobart and £2.5m for O'Connor Group.

Scots hauliers plan their own demonstration

A group of Scottish hauliers are planning to hold their own fuel protest next week in solidarity with the plan-ned protest by TransAction in London. Cameron Young, managing director of Cameron Young Transport, says: "I'll be sending a truck down to London to support TransAction's protest, but myself and several other hauliers also want to stage something up here on the same day."

This time last year Young ran around 25 trucks, but over the past couple of months has been gradually downsizing his fleet due to escalating fuel prices. "I've just sold another nine vehicles, so I'm down to 12. If the government does something soon about diesel prices, then I just might survive."

Young, along with Stephen Montgomery, owner of S Montgomery Transport in Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, has been speaking to the Scottish media to rally support for a go-slow on Tuesday into Edinburgh. Montgomery says: "We have already got a lot of hauliers interested in taking part in some form of action and we are speaking to the local police and local MPs." To take part, contact Young on 07855 260 001 or Montgomery on 07813 783 445.