New report says increased demand at Felixstowe and Freeport East means increased freight capacity at Ely makes sense

New report says increased demand at Felixstowe and Freeport East means increased freight capacity at Ely makes sense

A new report by Transport East and England’s Economic Heartland has called for the need for increased rail freight capacity at Ely, Cambridgeshire.

The report highlights the potential of a new freight terminal in Ely to boost the capacity demands at nearby Felixstowe Port.

The Department for Transport recently restated their commitment to rail freight and its infrastructure with the ‘Future for Freight Plan’ – The document highlighted the need for huge growth within the rail freight sector, to hit the government’s decarbonisation and economic targets.

A key element of Transport East’s report is the need for infrastructure to be in place to support intermodal freight at Ely and Felixstowe and help the success of Freeport East, which was signed off by the Government in March. Ely is strategically positioned at the centre of the Felixstowe – Midlands and North freight corridor (F2MN), a key artery between Felixstowe and the Midlands.

Freeport East will be situated near Felixstowe and will add to the capacity and intermodal demand at what is already the UK’s largest and busiest intermodal rail freight facility and one where 15 of the the UK’s inland terminals are connected. This includes Ely.

F2MN was upgraded in part in 2019, with W10 high gauge added in certain areas and significant investment was made in CP5 to allow further w10 high gauge capacity increases to happen in the future.

However, the report also highlights the current issues that exist at Ely including a mixture of single track sections, level crossing issues and signalling limitations which would be needed to be overcome.

The creation of Freeports has also put pressure on existing decarbonisation targets set by the Government. The report suggests that the upgraded Ely Freight Terminal would remove 98,000 lorries off the road each year and increase freight services through F2MN by an extra 2,900 lorries. The increased capacity whilst also needed to support demand, would cut carbon emissions by 1.7 million tonnes per year.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, chair of Transport East said: “Solving these rail pinchpoints would help connect our growing places, energise our rural and coastal communities, and unblock our international gateways. All while helping achieve net zero transport and bringing into the Treasury five times the required investment. We must get these moving.”

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight said: “Rail freight is vital for the UK economy. It transports the consumer goods we all have in our homes, delivers building materials for construction projects and moves the fuel which keeps our lights on. Ely would create significant capacity to grow rail freight, by removing a bottleneck for freight volumes from the Port of Felixstowe, and unlocking further capacity elsewhere on the network.”

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