The entrance to the Mossend Railhead.
© John Yellowlees, 2016
Mossend Railhead is owned and operated by PDS, a long-established family business with transportation "in its veins". The company was founded in 1870 by Elphinstone Stirling, great grandfather to the current generation of senior management. Mr Stirling used horse-drawn carriages in his business as a coal merchant and carrier in the Glasgow area.
PDS - short for "Peter D Stirling" - bought its first motor lorry in 1921, developing into a haulier with a specialisation in transporting bulk goods. The company moved into rail transport in 1961, purchasing land at Mossend more than 20 years ago and has since established rail handling, storage and haulage operations there.
It is run today by William Stirling's sons David and Andrew - the fourth generation to manage the business in more than 130 years - and its fleet includes 12 tractor units, more than 50 mixed trailers, tank containers and more, while proposed exapnsion will ensure that Mossend Railhead continues to provide a professional open-access service to logistics users all over the UK and Continental Europe.
PD Stirling came to Mossend in the 1970s developing their railhead on the west side of the line between Motherwell and Coatbridge which now handles ten trains a week bringing imported road vehicles for STVA, cement for Hanson and steel products, with Ibstock Brick a third tenant who will use rail when the time is right.
STVA as a subsidiary of SNCF understand the merits of longer trains, and in 2009 PD Stirling applied for planning permission to build eight 775-metre electrified sidings with a gantry crane and associated warehousing to enable incoming trains to be stripped and reloaded in two hours.
The aim is to tackle the domestic intermodal market - over 70% of whisky goes south by road - and to allow an out-and-back journey in a day from Felixstowe, but despite provision for direct access off the new M8 to keep lorries off local roads and creation of new community woodland neighbouring residents objected to the loss of what they saw as North Lanarkshire's last green belt.
PD Stirling successfully took the Council's refusal of planning permission to appeal, and now await the outcome of its application for judicial review, with only the top area of warehousing not yet consented.
Report and photograph by John Yellowlees.
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