UN research students involved in revolutionary town centre freight project

Date 16.11.2015

A team of research students from the University of Northampton is working on a project which could revolutionise the way freight is transported in towns and cities across the UK.

The team, led by Dr Andrew Gough, Associate Professor from the University’s Northampton Business School, is looking into whether businesses in Northampton would be interested in using the Mole Freight Pipeline.

Developed by Northamptonshire firm Mole Solutions, of Geddington, the Mole Freight Pipeline is a system which transports goods in capsules through an underground pipeline.

The system is particularly suited for urban areas which suffer from traffic congestion, as it means goods are taken off the roads – in Northampton, a disused railway line running through the town has been earmarked for the project.

Dr Gough said: “The big picture here is the regeneration of the High Street as a shopping destination. This system provides a reliable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution to transporting goods into the congested centres of our towns and cities.

“Once companies and organisations in Northampton find out about the benefits of Mole, we are confident there will be sufficient demand for it to become a reality here.

“Shops in the town centre could get rid of their stock rooms, which take up valuable space, and extend the shop floor. They would store their stock on the edge of town, where cheaper storage space is available, and transport it to the town centre as, and when, they need it.

“Mole takes freight off the road, which cuts pollution and congestion and makes our roads safer for other users. By following a disused railway line, there is the potential to install a path and cycleway along the route – another measure which will keep cyclists and pedestrians safe.

“There’s also almost no limit to the amount of goods which can be transported, as more capsules can be added to the system, which can run 24 hours a day, and without the need for a driver.”

Mole Solutions has received a feasibility study grant from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to test the system, which sees goods powered along a track by linear motors.

If the University’s research team identify a strong demand for the system, and it is financially viable, pipelines could be dug in Northampton along the disused railway line, which travels from Brackmills Industrial Estate through to the town centre.

According to Mole Solutions, approximately 67% of UK goods are moved by road, with congestion costing the economy £31.9bn a year.