The Port of Felixstowe will tomorrow [Thursday 5th May] launch its public consultation into proposals to improve rail access to the Port. An information leaflet on the proposals has been sent to 900 households along the Felixstowe Branch Line, and the Ipswich marshalling yard. Further copies of the leaflet are available from Felixstowe Library, or directly from the Port. The leaflet includes a FREEPOST comment slip to allow people to respond with their views. These responses will give the Port a better understanding of local opinion, and will aid the development of proposals that reflect the aspirations of all involved, so far as is possible. The consultation period will last until the end of July 2005.
A website has also been launched at www.portoffelixstowe.co.uk/fsr/branchline/introduction.htm as part of the consultation process, and information evenings at local parish halls are planned.
The proposals will support both the growth in the existing rail operations at the Port of Felixstowe, and will provide important capacity enhancement to accommodate additional traffic from the proposed Felixstowe South Reconfiguration (FSR) project. The FSR plans incorporate a third rail terminal at the Port, to enable it to maximise the opportunities to move freight via the rail network.
The Port intends to apply for an order under the Transport and Works Act later this year, which would authorise double track on the existing single-track branch line between Trimley St. Mary train station to a point between Nacton and the Suffolk Showground. In addition, it is proposed to construct three additional 24-wagon sidings within the existing Ipswich marshalling yard, running adjacent to Ranelagh Road.
Commenting on the proposals, Richard Pearson, Managing Director of Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited, said:
“Improving the rail access to the Port of Felixstowe will ensure that containers can continue to be transported efficiently by rail, thereby minimising the number of lorry movements on the UK’s busy road network. Through our proposals, we will allow up to an additional twelve freight trains per day to run by the year 2020, saving over half a million lorry journeys from the roads annually.”
Subject to the necessary permission being granted by the Government, it is expected that the improved Felixstowe Branch Line would be fully operational by the end of 2009.
The FSR proposals involve the conversion of the area previously used by P&O North Sea Ferries Limited, Landguard Terminal, and the now largely redundant Dock Basin, into a new deep-water container terminal. The proposals would significantly increase the length of quay available for container handling in the southern part of the Port, giving a total quay length of 1,350 metres, dredged to 16 metres alongside.
The continued success of the Port of Felixstowe is essential for both the national and regional economy. The reconfiguration is expected to create 621 new jobs, in addition to the 2,800 people already employed at the Port, with some 860 more in supporting industries and services. The Port contributes over ¢G70 million to the local economy in wages alone, and over 12,500 people in Suffolk derive their livelihoods from the Port and related industries. FSR would help to secure the future employment of all those who currently rely on the Port for their livelihoods.