The Port of Sunderland has been connected up the to rail network for the first time in 20 years following a £600,000 investment by Network Rail to enable cargo to be transported onwards by rail.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin was there to see the first train use the line. He said: “The reconnection of the port’s rail link will boost its import and export capabilities significantly. I am proud to see this historic port being put firmly on the map again for freight and maritime projects and gearing up for more business.”
The port handles more than 700,000 tonnes of cargo each year. The reinstated line will allow up to five trains a day to operate into and out of the port, connecting it to the East Coast mainline, and from there to the wider rail network and mainland Europe via the Channel Tunnel.
During his visit Mr McLoughlin saw a trial run of a Class 66 locomotive on its newly connected rail line organised by DB Schenker and Network Rail.
Port director Matthew Hunt said: “For more than 20 years, Port of Sunderland has not seen any rail traffic coming into its heart. To have lines connected into the port is a huge step forward for us and it really was an important moment for us to see the lines in use once again.”