Rail freight funding bid

EXTRA pressure is today being brought in a bid to secure funding for a major rail project to take container lorries off Suffolk's roads.Executives at the Port of Felixstowe are holding a series of meetings with rail bosses as part of a concerted campaign to get the sidelined scheme back on track and made a "top priority".

EXTRA pressure is today being brought in a bid to secure funding for a major rail project to take container lorries off Suffolk's roads.

Executives at the Port of Felixstowe are holding a series of meetings with rail bosses as part of a concerted campaign to get the sidelined scheme back on track and made a "top priority".

Millions of pounds need to be spent to upgrade the Felixstowe to Nuneaton rail line – but the cash-strapped Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) has taken the venture off the timetable.

Work needs to be done on the route to improve tunnels, bridges and stretches of track so the line can take the new higher 9ft 6 in containers.


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Similar work is already being done on the London-bound freight cargo route, but this is already very congested and not a direct route for northbound boxes.

Paul Davey, port corporate affairs manager, said meetings had been held with the SRA and more were planned.

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"There is great concern over funding and we, and the Haven Gateway Partnership, are concerned that sufficient money is made available and that rail freight is not sidelined," said Mr Davey.

"The Felixstowe-Nuneaton route should be top priority. We have 21 trains out and 22 in a day, but only four of those go cross-country and the rest all go via the congested London route.

"There is more demand for the 9ft 6in boxes and this will grow so we need to be able to get them to their destinations quickly and efficiently."

Improvements to the Nuneaton route could lead to the number of freight trains being doubled, enabling hundreds of thousands more boxes to be sent by rail instead of on the A14.

Without it, ports in the region will fail to meet government targets for getting more cargo onto the trains – and the congested rail lines currently used will simply be overloaded and seize up.

Felixstowe and Harwich, handle nearly three million boxes annually – more than 40pc of all containers through UK ports. About 20pc are moved by rail, but this is set to grow as the ports expand in the next 15 to 20 years.

n Should the government be spending millions on rail improvements for freight – or could the money be better spent? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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