Campaigners including Freight on Rail and the Campaign for Better Transport have welcomed increased capacity for freight trains to and from the UK container port of Felixstowe that will cater for the immediate, suppressed demand for rail freight services on this key intermodal route.
Network Rail recently announced that the upgrades to the branch line between Felixstowe and Ipswich are on schedule to be completed by December 2019, part of the Strategic Rail Freight Network funded projects during what it calls Control period 5.
Philippa Edmunds, manager of the lobby group Freight on Rail, said: “These additional rail freight services can be filled almost immediately as shippers have been demanding additional rail services on the parallel rail route to the A14 corridor for years. Increasing long-distance consumer rail freight will reduce road congestion, road crashes, and pollution as well as making road freight more reliable.”
Research carried out earlier this year for Freight on Rail, sponsored by the Department for Transport (DfT), showed that the A14 corridor from Felixstowe had up to 6,500 of the largest HGVs (5- and 6-axle articulated lorries) on the corridor each day, which represented between 10% and 17% of all traffic, she noted. These additional rail services will remove another 840 large HGVs each day off the route, which is the equivalent of around 3,360 average cars.
Edmunds added: “We urge the government to prioritize further work on this key corridor, as part of its industrial and emissions strategies, to improve productivity and reduce air and CO2 emissions.”