PD Ports has condemned government plans to make no provision for freight in a planned £3 billion Trans-Pennine rail upgrade as “unwelcome and deeply troubling for the economy and businesses in the north of England”.
The Trans-Pennine route runs between Leeds and Manchester, and PD Ports, which runs Teesport, said that “after more than two years of assurances from the Department for Transport that rail freight was to be an integral part of the scheme, this decision represents a concerning last-minute reversal that would serve to negatively impact the growth prospects of the region.”
It us urging transport secretary Chris Grayling to reconsider, saying that failing to invest in additional rail freight capacity on the Trans-Pennine route, “could seriously damage the economic aims of the Northern Powerhouse and would leave an over-reliance on the heavily congested M62.
“There is a significant demand from our customers to be able to move freight east to west through this northern corridor allowing shorter distances to be covered by rail. Without a viable alternative route for rail freight with the necessary capacity and gauge, the growth we are experiencing will be limited and at risk of reducing due to transport restrictions.”
Teesport’s container business has delivered consistent growth in volumes of some 12 per cent year-on-year for the last seven years. “This growth was a catalyst in PD Ports’ decision to build the rail terminal, which continues to see a significant modal shift among customers with rail volumes surpassing 40,000 units mat (moving annual total) with an anticipated 50 per cent uplift by 2029,” said PD Ports.