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Port of Felixstowe's new crane should ease congestion
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Theresa Villiers drives Port of Felixstowe's 2m crane

The Port of Felixstowe hopes a new crane will help increase the amount of freight transported by rail, lessening the burden on Suffolk's roads.

Transport minister Theresa Villiers formally inaugurated the crane at Felixstowe's South Rail Terminal on Wednesday.

"I think it's going to be a tremendous new asset for the port," she said.

"The government is very supportive of a switch of freight from road to rail where possible."

The new crane is part of a £300m expansion at Britain's largest container port. .

"The crane is the latest in a series of investments we're making in the rail capacity at the port," said Paul Davey, head of corporate affairs for Hutchison Ports/Port of Felixstowe.

"We've lengthened the tracks on the terminal, relayed a number of the tracks and we've bought two new cranes to allow us to get more containers on the rail.

"We use them to lift the containers that we transport from our container storage yard on and off the trains which go from Felixstowe to 17 different destinations throughout the UK."

Mr Davey said the improvements will also reduce carbon emissions.

"In the next couple of years we're going to be investing in a whole new rail terminal here.

"The government and Network Rail are also investing to allow more and more containers to move by rail and to lessen the burden on the A14 and the other roads."

Strain on rail network

Mrs Villiers is confident the rail network can cope with increased traffic.

The new crane at Felixstowe
The new 2m crane is part of the port's 300m expansion

"As a government we've embarked on a very extensive programme of rail investment because of growing demand both from passengers and freight and we hope that will pick up even more as the country emerges from recession," she said.

"We're also pursuing very important upgrades, for example the improvements to the connection between Felixstowe and Nuneaton, which will release many more paths and make it much easier to run rail freight services."

Train fares increased by an average of 6% at the start of the year - a move defended by Mrs Villiers.

"I fully understand people's frustration about rail fares," she said.

"It's always a difficult decision setting rail fares but we felt it was very important to continue with extensive investment to improve services and improve the infrastructure - and that does mean asking passengers to pay a little bit more.

"We also think it's very important Network Rail starts to perform more efficiently.

"Overrunning engineering works is a huge frustration for passengers and can cause significant economic damage.

"That's why we're working very hard on how we can get Network Rail, who run the tracks, and the train operators who run services to work more closely together so that overall we can deliver a more efficient railway that costs less to run and delivers a better result for rail users from the passenger market and the freight market."




SEE ALSO
Expanding Felixstowe for 300m
11 Mar 10 |  Nature & Outdoors
In pictures: Felixstowe extension
23 Feb 10 |  Nature & Outdoors

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