Campaigners celebrate �8m grant to get freight off roads

CAMPAIGNERS were delighted yesterday after a project to take thousands of trucks off the region's roads and transfer the cargo to rail received an �8 million European grant.

Richard Cornwell

CAMPAIGNERS were delighted yesterday after a project to take thousands of trucks off the region's roads and transfer the cargo to rail received an �8 million European grant.

The money will provide 20 per cent of the �42m cost of the next phase of improvements to the Felixstowe to Nuneaton (F2N) cross-country line, which will take lorries off the A14.

The European Commission also announced further good news for the region's economy with �12.7m for dredging and reclamation work for the London Gateway port development, and �10m for accident and congestion reduction work on the A14.

Vital work has already been done to upgrade the F2N rail line to ensure the new 9ft 6in high cube containers can be transported without the need for special wagons.

But more track works are needed to enable more boxes to be sent on the route, which provides access to distribution centres in the Midlands and north of England.

Most Read

Conservative MEPs for the East of England, Geoffrey Van Orden, Robert Sturdy and Vicky Ford, have put pressure on Network Rail and the Department for Transport to make a bid for European money and are delighted with the grant.

“EU funding is in reality nothing more than British taxpayers money recycled through Brussels, so it's important we see more of it being put to good use for local benefit,” said Mr Van Orden.

Mrs Ford said it was excellent news for those fed up with traffic jams and allowing East-West freight to travel by rail was a cost-efficient alternative.

Derrick Ashley, chairman of the regional planning panel, said: “As transport plays such a central role in the economy, improving the infrastructure can act as a catalyst for increased economic activity.

“These projects will boost economic competitiveness and growth by delivering a reliable and efficient rail route; they will reduce carbon emissions and improve safety, security and health by making the roads and transport networks safer.”