Volkswagen has abandoned the railway to bring spare parts from Germany into its new distribution centre in the Midlands because it is too slow and too expensive. Instead, hundreds of trucks a year will ferry parts for VW, Audi, Skoda and SEAT across Europe and onto British roads.

The move is a big frustration for VW UK which had specifically built its state-of-the-art centre at Dordon at a railhead so it could use trains to ship the cargo. The company consolidated five separate warehouses over three years ago into the new facility to reduce costs and improve service to customers.

VW UK spokesman Paul Buckett, speaking to Headlineauto at the North American Auto Show in Detroit, said: “We deliberately built the distribution centre at a railhead but unfortunately we have discovered that moving things by rail is not as effective as we thought it would be.

“Service parts move very quickly and we cannot afford to have them left on trains for days on end. It is also cheaper to move them by road.” He added that it was taking up to five days to move parts across the continent by rail while it can be done in half the time by trucks which also save around £3 million a year in costs.

Mr Buckett added: “Moving cargo across three rail systems through Germany, France and England did not prove to be as effective as we had hoped.”

- Recent data reported to the EU-funded ETTAR environmental freight transport project has suggested that the average speed of rail freight journeys across the EU, taking account of cross-border hindrances including gauge differences between Western Europe and former Comecon member countries, was no more than 18 kph/11 mph.

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