The government has given the go-ahead to a vital transport link that will allow containers to be moved directly from Felixstowe to the Midlands.
Work is due to start in 2012 on the upgrade of the Felixstowe to Nuneaton rail freight line. When it is completed in 2014 freight trains will be able to travel direct from the port to the midlands, north-west and Scotland. At the moment trains have to travel from Felixstowe into London and then back up north.
Network Rail said the project would take about 750,000 lorries off the road by 2030.
Between 1999 and 2008 the number of containers passing through Felixstowe increased by 118 per cent but the number of those containers transported by rail increased by 165 per cent, demonstrating the growing market share of rail. Over the same period the number of trains serving the port daily has almost doubled.
The upgraded line will run from Felixstowe to Nuneaton via Ipswich, Ely and Peterborough. Improvements include:
* Gauge enhancements between Peterborough and Nuneaton to ensure the entire route can carry the larger, more economical freight containers increasingly preferred by global shipping firms
* new 1km stretch of track, or chord, north of Ipswich goods yard, linking the East Suffolk and Great Eastern lines
* two 775m sections of track east of Ely station to enable better regulation of trains through the junctions at Ely
* signalling works at Kennett / Bury St Edmunds
* A flyover north of Nuneaton station that will allow freight trains from Peterborough to join the West Coast Main Line without the need to cross it at grade.