Pay up, government urged

WITH Felixstowe port preparing to shell out £46.6 million on dualling part of a rail line, the government is being urged to accept that it should instead bear the costs of such work.

WITH Felixstowe port preparing to shell out £46.6 million on dualling part of a rail line, the government is being urged to accept that it should instead bear the costs of such work.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says the Department of Transport should accept responsibility for funding inland transport links from ports, as happens in all other developed nations.

It wants ministers to use the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review to set out policy on the funding of key rail and road infrastructure upgrades required to improve links with the ports and to reduce congestion and the costs which go with it

As part of its £240m expansion of the port complex at Felixstowe, container terminal owners Hutchison Ports have to dual four-and-a-half miles of the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line.


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In addition, the company will have to pay for work to relieve congestion and make safer the dock spur roundabout on the A14 and also work at Copdock interchange, running into millions of pounds.

But the FTA said this burden should not fall on the port and the government should be helping to streamline and hasten the completion of major infrastructure projects, including road, rail and ports.

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“The UK's economy, and the supply chain that supports it, is undergoing substantial change notably in respect of imports from the Far East and the large numbers of containers in which those imports arrive,” said the FTA.

“It is estimated that the growth in container traffic across the world will double in the period between 2000 and 2010 and the impact of that will be felt at UK ports, and with the road and rail infrastructure which serve them.”

Shipping demand is forecast to outstrip existing and currently anticipated UK ports capacity, and without further expansion delivery costs could increase by some £140m per annum beyond 2030.

“The UK needs greater ports capacity and that need is now becoming urgent. But it also needs to be supplied in a way which ensures economic competitiveness,” said the FTA.

“Efficient ports operation impacts positively on consumer prices and on the speed and reliability of delivery. Equally congestion at ports and the links to them results in extra and avoidable costs and poor service for the end consumer.

“The government is responsible for the provision of road and rail links - it must recognise this obligation and invest in infrastructure itself rather than make demands on port developers and their customers to fund such links.”

The port is currently waiting for the outcome of a public inquiry to see if it can dual the line, which must happen before its expansion.

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