Port smashes rail cargo record

BRITAIN'S biggest port is forging ahead in its bid to get more cargo off the region's roads and onto the rails - and has today broken its record for railfreight.

Richard Cornwell

BRITAIN'S biggest port is forging ahead in its bid to get more cargo off the region's roads and onto the rails - and has today broken its record for railfreight.

The Port of Felixstowe has smashed through the 9,000 rail-moves-per-week barrier for the first time ever.

Officials said 9,111 containers were handled by its Rail Division during the last week of September.


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The previous record of 8,984 units was achieved in the September last year.

Chris Lewis, chief executive officer of Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited, which owns the port, said: “This is a significant milestone for the Port of Felixstowe, and we are proud of the efforts of all our staff and those of Network Rail in helping to ensure that we remain the UK's leading port rail operator.

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“We are committed to optimising environmentally-friendly rail transport opportunities for our customers.

“The current very high volumes of rail traffic highlight the need to improve freight capacity on the rail network to enable more traffic to be distributed by sustainable modes.”

The record-breaking rail volumes follow a number of key projects at the 700-acre container terminal in recent months.

Work has taken place to extend the South Rail Terminal by 39 metres on all three lines, so it can now accommodate 22-wagon trains, compared with 20-wagon trains previously.

The terminal is also being equipped with two brand new state-of-the-art rail-mounted gantry cranes.

The first arrived in June, and will be fully operational by the end of the month. The second is due for delivery in late 2009.

The port's South Rail Terminal has also received a significant boost from Network Rail, which has upgraded the quality of the track, and brought in much-needed re-routing and switch improvements to enable 22-wagon trains to pass safely.

More projects are planned for the future to further improve the efficiency and reliability. These include major investment in the refurbishment of one of the southern lines with the entire 465 metres of track being replaced by January, with further track upgrades, in co-operation with Network Rail, in August 2009.

The port has also recently been granted permission to dual four-and-a-half miles of track on the Felixstowe peninsula, but the £50 million project is unlikely to begin until around 2014.

Plans are also in the pipeline for another new train service, which should start next year, to complement the existing 52 services per day to and from Coatbridge (Glasgow), Trafford Park (Manchester), Liverpool, Leeds, Cleveland, Birmingham, Tilbury, Selby, Wakefield, Hams Hall, Ditton, and Doncaster.

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