Rail and sea boost for port

THE Port of Felixstowe has welcomed the first call of Maersk Line's AE1 Asia-Europe service - and with it the start of the 28th daily train service from the Suffolk port.

THE Port of Felixstowe has welcomed the first call of Maersk Line's AE1 Asia-Europe service - and with it the start of the 28th daily train service from the Suffolk port.

The Sine Maersk, with capacity equivalent 6,600 standard container units, arrived at the UK's largest container port from Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia.

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 scheduled connection to Birmingham International Freight Terminal at Birch Coppice.

This increases the number of services Freightliner operates from the port to 21 per day and brings the number of inland rail terminals with a direct connection to Felixstowe to thirteen.

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Chris Lewis, chief executive 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.”

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He added: “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.”

The Port of Felixstowe offers a comprehensive daily regional rail distribution network, now including 10 services to the Midlands, nine services to the North West, seven services to the North East, one service to Scotland and one service to London.

Peter Maybury, managing director and interim chief executive at Freightliner Group Ltd, said: “We are delighted to add to our already extensive network from the Port of Felixstowe with the introduction of our 21st service, and at the same time endorsing our long term commitment to Maersk. This is consistent with our position as the market leader in inland container transportation in the UK.”

Mark Cornwell, operations director at Maersk Line UK & Ireland, said: “We are pleased to add the Port of Felixstowe to our AE1 service. This new call enables Maersk Line to make more efficient use of our extensive inland infrastructure, including offering a new, high-cube cleared, daily service to and from Birch Coppice, the ninth rail destination served by Maersk Line from Felixstowe.

“Our comprehensive inland network and industry-leading vessel reliability create a powerful combination and we look forward to working with the Port of Felixstowe, Freightliner and our customers to make this new call a success.”

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