The Port of Felixstowe is aiming to double its rail cargo Picture: COURTESY OF THE PORT OF FELIXSTOWE
Britain's premier container port says it is preparing to double the amount of cargo it sends by rail once dualling of part of the Felixstowe-Ipswich line is fully complete.
The £60million project will enable the Port of Felixstowe to increase the number of freight trains it handles by 30% and open up fresh connections to the north of England.
The port currently puts more than one million standard-sized boxes on the rails each year - treble what it was sending by train 20 years ago.
But now it is aiming to double that to two million boxes.
The project to dual part of the line on the Felixstowe peninsula will increase the current capacity of 66 daily train movements to 90 train movements a day.
The Network Rail project - a 1.4km passing loop between Trimley and Nacton - is finished but won't be fully operational until new timetabling comes in later in the year.
Robert Ashton, operations director at the Port of Felixstowe, told the port's Ship2Shore magazine: "We are continuing to see strong demand from customers for rail services from the port. We already have a greater choice and frequency of rail services than any other UK port and the new capacity will ensure that an even greater range of sustainable transport options will be available to port users in the near future."
Campaigners have been assured they will see a more reliable hourly passenger service between Felixstowe and Ipswich from now on.
Port officials say the environmental benefits of rail freight are widely recognised and have a key role to play in meeting government environmental targets.
They say the current freight sent from the port's three rail terminals save more than 100 million lorry miles each year, reducing road congestion, pollution, and improving environmental performance.
The ability to serve 90 trains a day is part of plans to expand services to the north of the country. Some 70% of containers coming through the port are destined for the north and midlands.
Combined with this will be the development of a new generation of inland terminal facilities to offer port customers new distribution opportunities.
The Port of Felixstowe also has its own long-term plans for a new railhead alongside the A14 on the Felixstowe peninsula to connect to the proposed 300-acre port business park at Innocence Farm at Kirton.