The Port of Felixstowe is celebrating a buoyant start to the year in its Rail Division, with a record number of containers transported by rail in January and February. The Port handled 7,071 units by rail in week ending 5th February, beating the previous record of 7,006 set in April 2004.
Richard Pearson, Managing Director of Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited, said:
“This most recent record reflects the overall trend we are seeing at Felixstowe, where rail is seen increasingly as a reliable and cost effective alternative to road transport for freight. Last year, we saw an increase of 11% in rail volumes on the previous year, and demand is growing all the time.”
This record rail throughput comes at a time when significant enhancements are taking place in respect of rail activities at the Port of Felixstowe.
Freightliner Limited has launched a new service to Manchester, targeted specifically at the transportation of high-cube containers, an important and growing sector of the container shipping market.
The service runs from Tuesday to Saturday, leaving the Port at 21.00hrs, and arriving in Manchester at 06.00hrs. The return journey departs from Manchester at 16.00hrs, and arrives at the Port at 02.00hrs. It increases Freightliner’s links between the key freight centres of Felixstowe and Manchester by 25%, and makes Manchester the most popular route of all Freightliner’s services at Felixstowe.
The introduction of Freightliner’s new service follows the completion of work to allow the movement of high-cube containers to and from the Port without the need to use special rail wagons. The ¢G30 million upgrade was opened in October 2004, and has significantly enhanced the Port’s links with the Midlands, North West and Scotland via the West Coast Main Line.
Freightliner’s CEO Eddie Fitzsimons commented: “Freightliner has grown its services at the Port of Felixstowe by 40% in the last two years, and this latest expansion means that we now operate 36 daily trains at the Port.”
He continued: “This new container service has the potential to save up to 35,000 truck journeys a year. We are determined to introduce new freight links following network improvements, and this shows what can be done when capacity and loading gauge are right.”
There are now a total of 23 inbound and 22 outbound trains per day from the Port of Felixstowe’s North and South Rail terminals. These trains link the Port to Coatbridge (Glasgow), Trafford Park (Manchester), Liverpool, Leeds, Cleveland, Birmingham, Cardiff, Tilbury, Doncaster, Selby, Widnes, Hams Hall, and Daventry. The Port also handles two forest products trains per day at its dedicated paper-handling rail terminal.