A MULTI-million pound expansion of Ipswich's West Bank terminal is set to open at the end of January next year, it was confirmed today.The £6.1 million new roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) berth at the terminal is a major investment in a part of the port which had a very doubtful future a decade ago.
A MULTI-million pound expansion of Ipswich's West Bank terminal is set to open at the end of January next year, it was confirmed today.
The £6.1 million new roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) berth at the terminal is a major investment in a part of the port which had a very doubtful future a decade ago.
The work includes the construction of a new 150-metre quay wall, a berth for tugs and new moorings.
Port owner Associated British Ports (ABP) went ahead with the project after signing a 20-year deal with shipping company Ferryways.
It marks a remarkable turnaround for ro-ro operations at the port. Ipswich lost its regular ferry link with the near continent in 1995, but then Ferryways established a new link with Ostend in 2000.
Two years later it increased its sailings, and the new berth will allow further links between the ports on opposite sides of the North Sea.
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Port manager Robert Smith said: "When ABP took over Ipswich port in 1997 it was one of our aims to re-establish a ferry service from the West Bank Terminal.
"That came to fruition in 2000, and it has been a great success for both the port itself and Ferryways.
"We are delighted to be able to go ahead with this expansion," he said.
Since ABP bought Ipswich Port for £12 million in 1997, the company has invested £20 million in new facilities on both sides of the River Orwell - before the new ro-ro terminal was built.
ABP, which handles around a quarter of the UK's seaborne trade, today posted a seven percent rise in underlying profits to £65.2 million for the six months to June 30.
But costs of £44.9 million involved in its failed bid to develop a new container terminal on Southampton Water weighed heavily on bottom-line profits, which fell to £20.1 million from £64.2 million a year ago. The £750 million project was rejected by the Government earlier this year.
ABP said long-term contracts secured in recent years enabled the group to increase turnover by 6pc to £182.2 million.
The company employs around 3,000 people in the UK and US. It operates 20 ports in the UK including Newport, Plymouth and Cardiff.