Felixstowe: Transport minister tries out new �2m rail crane

TRANSPORT minister Theresa Villiers declared today that she had had “great fun” after being let loose at the controls of a new �2 million rail crane at Britain’s biggest port.

The MP was visiting Felixstowe to “open” two new cranes bought as part of a improvements project at the port’s southern rail terminal aimed at increasing the amount of freight carried by rail.

Unafraid of heights, she climbed the daunting narrow flights of steps and crossed a mesh-floor gantry walkway to reach the cab of the rail crane, where she was shown the controls.

Carefully she manoeuvred the crane along the tracks, picking up a container and then loading it onto a waiting freight train.

“That was great fun – a bit nerve-wracking but very interesting,” said Mrs Villiers, once safely back on the ground at Landguard Terminal.

About 28 per cent of rail traffic through the port currently goes by train and when the terminal doubles its capacity in the next few years through expansion the number of boxes going by train will increase.

Mrs Villiers said: “The coalition government is very supportive of efforts to shift freight from road to rail and investment by the Port of Felixstowe in new machinery such as these cranes is very important part of the improvements and enhancements to railfreight operations.

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“The government has also been able to confirm upgrade work on parts of the rail network connecting with other parts of the country despite the crisis we inherited in the country’s finances.”