Felixstowe: Minister does the spadework at port ceremony

HEALTH and safety rules prevented shipping minister Mike Penning from taking the controls of a digger for a ground-breaking ceremony at Britain’s top port today – but a trusty spade was on hand instead.

“I’d loved to have been allowed to operate the digger, but it’s health and safety,” joked the minister as he posed for photos in the cab.

With Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey by his side, he used a specially engraved stainless steel spade to break the ground instead and kick-start work officially on the new �40 million third rail terminal at the Port of Felixstowe.

The terminal will double the rail freight capacity at the port and be the first in the UK designed to handle 30-wagon long freight trains, capable of carrying 90 standard-sized containers.

Mr Penning said the terminal was vitally important for the country, providing jobs and growth at a difficult time as well as environmental benefits in taking hundreds of thousands of lorries off roads.

He said he was keeping an open mind on suggestions from the port that little-used passenger trains should be cut to allow more freight services. It was a debate which would happen over the months ahead and the idea would be looked at very carefully and in the best interests of both passengers and cargo.