Fears over impact of rail strike on Port of Felixstowe containers
- Credit: LUCY TAYLOR
Fears have been raised over the impact the rail strikes will have on getting freight out of the Port of Felixstowe.
Families and businesses across Suffolk were hit with the first of three planned days of strikes on the railways on Tuesday, the first of three planned days of strike action on Suffolk's railways.
Business leaders across the county raised particular concerns about the impact the strike would have on containers leaving the Port of Felixstowe.
Toby Warren, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce senior policy officer, said: "The initial intelligence from our members suggests that many have been successfully implementing their contingency plans, including encouraging working from home and the deferral of meetings and appointments where these are possible.
"Most, though, are concerned about the impact on long-term activity and confidence levels should the dispute continue for many more days.
“A particular concern is the impact on freight in and out of the Port of Felixstowe and the possible knock-on impact on the county’s roads network.
“Suffolk Chamber looks to both sides to resume talks as soon as possible before the strikes cause lost contracts and delays to the day-to-day imperatives of running a business in increasingly challenging times.”
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The freight route leaving Felixstowe has been prioritised by Network Rail, meaning some trains are running but not on a normal timetable.
A spokesman for the port said: "We have worked closely with rail freight interests to continue to provide a level of service on strike-affected days as well as releasing more bookings for road hauliers to help mitigate the impact."
The strike also cause increased traffic on the roads around the country.
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said it was due to "a combination of the rail strikes and the good weather".
“We are expecting the ongoing disruption to lead to higher than usual demand for our services at the roadside this week,” he said.
Elsewhere in the county, town centres appeared to remain as busy as normal despite some fears that the strikes would keep workers and shoppers away.
Gary Lynch, from Ipswich Station Taxi Tenants Association, said: "It doesn't help us, but at the end of the day the union has done what they think is best to protect their own livelihoods.
"Okay, commuters, taxi drivers and coffee shops we all suffer as a consequence but they obviously think they have an argument. It is what it is."