New rail line extends Felixstowe’s advantage


UK’s largest container terminal, the Port of Felixstowe, has announced that its newest rail line will begin operations on 31 March.

The new Ipswich Chord is set to reduce journey times up to one hour, both to and from the port as it bypasses the need to turn around at Ipswich train yard.

Testing of the new route began on 24 March.

1.2 kilometres of newly laid double track railway will link the Great Eastern Main line with the East Suffolk line, creating a direct link from Felixstowe to Nuneaton.

This will allow for a significant increase in capacity, as trains are no longer hindered by length constraints.

Safety is also expected to improve, as the need for any reconfiguration or any unnecessary yard operations will completely vanish.

Commenting on the announcement, Hutchinson Ports (UK) Limited chief executive officer, Clemence Cheng said “The Port of Felixstowe already has a unique rail advantage. The 60 freight train movements we handle every day connects the port with 17 different inland destinations and offers shippers a frequency and range of services that are simply not available anywhere else.

“This latest development complements the opening of a new rail terminal at Felixstowe last year, our third at the port. The new terminal, and the Ipswich Chord, will allow a greater number of 30-wagon trains to operate from the port providing greater choice and lower carbon emissions for our customers.”

Rail Minister Stephen Hammond visited chord earlier this month and spoke highly of its development saying, “we are investing record amounts into transforming our railways because we recognise they are a key engine for growth. It is great to see that investment taking shape on the ground through projects like the Ipswich Chord.

“This will deliver a real boost to the freight industry, driving forward our economy and freeing up capacity to improve passenger services. In addition, it will help remove Lorries from our roads, delivering safer journeys, a cleaner environment and relieving congestion.”

Richard Schofield, Network Rail route managing director, said, “the completion of the new rail link is great news for passengers and road users in Ipswich and across the Anglia region. It's a fantastic example of how investment in infrastructure can deliver benefits for local and regional economies and will contribute to the growth rail freight while helping passenger services improve further.”

Rail volumes at the Port of Felixstowe reached record levels in 2013 when 830,000 TEU were handled at the port’s rail terminals. With the new route this level is expected to increase exponentially.

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