Fears over more A14 lorries

THOUSANDS more lorries could be put onto the A14 in Suffolk because the government is cutting subsidies which encourage shippers to send them by rail, it was revealed today.

THOUSANDS more lorries could be put onto the A14 in Suffolk because the government is cutting subsidies which encourage shippers to send them by rail, it was revealed today.

Over the past two years hundreds of thousands of tonnes of cargo imported through Felixstowe port has been switched from road to rail because of the green grants. Now that situation could be reversed.

With expansion of the port set to lead to one million more lorries on the A14 in the next decade, it will mean more congestion and chaos when there are accidents or the port is shut and Operation Stack is running.

The government has received a flood of protests about the grant cuts.

With the subsidy, a company gets £61 per container if it travels from Felixstowe to the Midlands by train. That has now been reduced to £37 and for companies shipping huge numbers of boxes it will result in tens of thousands of pounds in extra costs.

The government is said to be using the money it saves to set up a programme to encourage coastal feeder shipping.

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Head of corporate affairs at the Port of Felixstowe, Paul Davey said: “Our concern is that this change might encourage those companies which have switched from road to rail to go back to using road haulage again because it could prove cheaper.

“It is only a month since the changes so it is too early to tell if this is happening, but it is something we are keeping a close eye on.”

The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers has written to Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander to object, expressing deep concern about the impact of the grant cuts.

It calls them a “retrograde step” and fears many shippers will move their cargo off the rails and back onto the roads, leading to more congestion on the A14 and A1.

The institute, which represents foreign ship owners through their agents, said the rail grants had led many of its members to switch from road to rail.

Do you want to see less lorries on the A14? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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