Leading UK rail freight operator EWS has secured a trio of Scottish Executive grants worth more than £1m to assist in the movement of timber by rail.

These include a £158,000 freight facilities grant for the redevelopment of the rail freight terminal at Beattock. EWS estimates the cost of the project at “almost double” this figure and so the company will continue to seek additional funding from other sources, a spokesman confirmed this week.

The terminal was closed more than a year ago but the aim is to have it re-opened for timber services by next spring.

EWS has also picked up track access grants, which are designed to help with the costs of placing freight onto rail and to make rail freight more competitive with road haulage. A grant for £766,000 covers timber movements from Fort William and Arrochar to the Kronospan facility at Chirk: another for £143,000 over three years relates to aa project that began operations this summer to move timber from Kinbrace in Sutherland to Inverness.

The Kinbrace project is backed by the Highland Council, the Forestry Commission, Highland Rail Partnership and EWS. Scotland’s deputy transport minister Lewis Macdonald welcomed this integrated approach “which will see previously inaccessible timber resources being harvested”.