Business boost for container port

NEW services on both sea and rail started today at Britain's biggest port - a welcome boost in a gloomy year so far.

Richard Cornwell

NEW services on both sea and rail started today at Britain's biggest port - a welcome boost in a gloomy year so far.

Executives at Felixstowe have been working hard to try to attract new business with cargo throughput down around 16 per cent because of the recession.

The port welcomed the first call of Maersk Line's AE1 Asia-Europe service, and - linked with it - the container terminal's 28th daily train service.

The Sine Maersk, carrying 6,600 standard-sized containers, was the first ship to arrive on the new service from Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia.

It is one of eleven ships, each carrying between 6,600 and 8,600 boxes, on the service.

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A new daily rail freight service has been added to support the Asia-Europe service.

Operated by Freightliner and dedicated to Maersk Line, the 24-wagon train provides a new daily connection to Birmingham International Freight Terminal.

Chris Lewis, chief executive officer of Hutchison Ports (UK) Ltd, which owns the Port of Felixstowe, said: “Felixstowe has been Maersk Line's main port in the UK for many years, and the arrival of the AE1 service means that all its main east-west services are now calling here.

“This is a great vote of confidence from one of our major customers and testament to the advantages to UK importers and exporters of shipping through Felixstowe.

“An increasing number of our customers are choosing rail as a more environmentally friendly alternative, and we have worked closely with Freightliner and the other train operating companies to ensure there is an unrivalled choice of destination and frequency of services from Felixstowe.

“We are regularly seeing up to 9,000 containers per week being handled by the port's two rail terminals, and the new service will help boost both the total number of containers, and the proportion of inland traffic, moving by rail.”

Mark Cornwell, operations director for Maersk Line UK and Ireland, said the new call and the rail freight connection enabled the company to transport high cube containers direct to Birmingham, the ninth rail destination served by Maersk Line from Felixstowe.