The Port of Felixstowe’s rail advantage is set to grow further with the official opening of the Ipswich Chord on 31 March 2014. The new chord will reduce rail freight journey times to and from the UK’s largest container port by one hour in each direction providing a substantial performance and efficiency improvement for both rail and sea freight operators.
Commenting on the latest improvement to Felixstowe’s rail connections, Clemence Cheng, Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited Chief Executive Officer, 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 volumes at the Port of Felixstowe reached record levels in 2013 when 830,000 TEU were handled at the port’s rail terminals.
When he visited the chord on 21 March 2014, Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said:
“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.”
The chord provides a new 1.2km double track railway linking the Great Eastern Main Line with the East Suffolk Line. It enables freight trains to link directly with the Felixstowe to Nuneaton route without having to turn around at Ipswich Yard.
The direct link provides a significant increase in capacity by enabling trains to run at higher speeds without the length constraints associated with Ipswich Yard. It also reduces the safety risks associated with unnecessary yard operations and train reconfigurations.
Test trains will run on the chord from 24 March 2014.