A TEESSIDE company has secured a deal with Network Rail to take full control of the railway sidings which link its entire 80 acre site to the East Coast mainline.

The deal, to manage the neighbouring seven-acre Middlesbrough Goods Yard, marks the completion of AV Dawson's £12.5m expansion plans which have seen the creation of a new deepwater river Tees quay; a rail freight terminal the Tees Riverside Intermodal Park (TRIP) and huge, state-of-the-art automotive steel store.

The 99-year lease to manage the goods yard will form a key part of the overall logistics operation at Dawson’s Riverside Park HQ. The family-run firm now plans to spend £500,000 on renewals and improvements over the next five years.

Gary Dawson, managing director, said: "Taking ownership of the Middlesbrough Goods Yard strategically underpins the investments we have made over recent years in building three additional rail served facilities, all of which rely on the goods yard for main line connection.

"It gives our investors and customers increased confidence in our business model and in their rail served supply chains. Having such a vested interest means that we are committed to improving the integrity of the yard, and plan to expand its capacity through redesign and the laying of additional track. Work on these improvements will begin over the next few weeks."

Another opportunity, allied to the main Goods Yard deal, has seen Dawson's take over responsibility for maintaining the point of connection and private infrastructure of Cobra Middlesbrough Ltd, which operates a dry bulk handling terminal, offering additional processing and packing services.

Andrew Padley, managing director of Cobra Middlesbrough, said it had worked closely alongside AV Dawson since 1982.

He said: "We’ve good relations between our two companies and look forward to cooperating together for many years to come. This is a wonderful opportunity to maximise the utilisation of this Middlesbrough facility."

Guy Bates, head of freight development, for Network Rail said: "These sidings are a critical holding and marshalling point for traffic originating from and destined to Cobra and Dawson’s railheads.

"The long term programme of revitalisation and enhancement will see this legacy yard’s layout progressively transformed to be capable of handling the growing traffic base of modern length freight trains."

AV Dawson opened its new £6.5m steel store in February which will be greatly supported by the acquisition of the goods yard.

Mr Dawson said: “Now we have ownership of the goods yard we can make some much needed improvements to the infrastructure, raising the standards of the tracks to meet the increased traffic and greater train lengths, improving cost efficiency for our customers.

"This infrastructure will secure the future for AV Dawson and enable us to build greater relationships with the freight operators and grow our support to the rail industry as a whole."

The company is a key player in the automotive steel logistics industry across the North East. More than 270,000 tonnes of steel a year will arrive by rail from Tata Steel in Port Talbot, South Wales, before eventually heading by road to Sunderland-based car giant Nissan on the back of Dawson’s specialist steel coil carrying trailers.