Rail freight

07.08.18

£1m boost for Tees Valley in new Network Rail freight study

The Tees Valley will receive a £1m investment in partnership with Network Rail to fund a study assessing the future of the region’s rail freight network.

NR and Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen signed off the investment, which will look to resolve issues between the Eaglescliffe to Northallerton branch of the East Coast Mail Line – where currently tunnels and low bridges restrict the size of cargo containers that can be used on the line.

Through Network Rail’s ‘Strategic Freight Network’ project, which is funded by the DfT, £750,000 will be contributed to the project, with an additional £250,000 coming from the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA).

The line carries cargo travelling between Felixstowe and major sea port Teesport on a daily basis, but due the current infrastructures on the route the largest containers have to take the time-consuming and costly detour via Darlington.

Houchen said the investment “isn’t eye-catching or sexy,” but argued that it is necessary to ensure Teesport is able to keep growing for decades to come.

“As we leave the EU and become an outward, globally trading nation once more, we need to throw our weight behind Teesport by ensuring our rail freight infrastructure is fit for purpose,” he added.

“We’ve already committed tens of millions to improve passenger services –­ with even more investment to come – but today’s investment with Network Rail will ensure our port is able to take advantage of the opportunities ahead.”

Aidan Talbott, principal programme sponsor at Network Rail, also commented: “We recognise the importance of this project to the local region and we are delighted to be working on this study which will look at ways we can improve freight routes between Eaglescliffe and Northallerton.

“This study is at an early stage and we look forward to working with the TVCA on this important project.”

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Image: olrat, iStock images

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