Rail line approval puts port on track

GOVERNMENT has today given the go-ahead to an £87 million project to dual part of the Felixstowe to Ipswich rail line.

Richard Cornwell

GOVERNMENT has today given the go-ahead to an £87 million project to dual part of the Felixstowe to Ipswich rail line.

The permission follows a public inquiry into the scheme, which is needed as part of a massive expansion project at the Port of Felixstowe.

The scheme to dual four-and-a-quarter miles of track between Trimley St. Mary and Nacton will take hundreds of thousands of lorries off the busy A14 each year as the port's cargo throughput grows.

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Originally, it was intended to carry out the rail work before the £250 million scheme to turn the old Landguard Terminal and Dock Basin into a deepwater terminal began.

But Suffolk Coastal council has allowed the phasing to be changed and the railway scheme will now not take place until phase two, probably around 2014.

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Chris Lewis, chief executive officer of Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited, which owns the Port of Felixstowe, said: “This is great news for the further development of the Port of Felixstowe.

“Work on phase one of the Felixstowe south expansion has already commenced, and this announcement clears the way for the implementation of phase two.

“We are committed to increasing the share of freight transported by rail through the port.

“These works will allow the number of daily trains to increase from 26 to approximately 40, taking hundreds of thousands of vehicles off the region's roads, as well as providing enhanced service and maximum efficiency for existing rail customers.”

In addition to the dualling, the port has received consent to build three additional 24-wagon sidings within the existing Ipswich marshalling yard.

When complete, the expansion work at the port will create four new deep-water berths, with a total length of 1,285 metres and a depth alongside of 16 metres.

The new facility, which will be the first new deep-water container capacity in the UK since Felixstowe completed development of Trinity Terminal in 2004, will be equipped with 13 ship-to-shore gantry cranes.

The first berths will be available in April 2010, with phase one fully operational by September 2010.

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