£17m freight pledge “welcomed” by Southampton port director – Daily Echo

Southampton’s port director has welcomed a GBP17million government pledge into the city’s freight train system. It is thought the “major rail upgrade” will boost efficiency of cargo travel through the port as well as offering a greener alternative to cargo supply by road. Alastair Welch, ABP Southampton Regional Director, said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement of investment in a major rail upgrade to support freight services.

“The Port of Southampton is the UK’s busiest export port, and a key point of entry for trade coming into the UK. “This upgrade allows us to move containers through the port even more efficiently, further driving down carbon emissions and congestion as we keep Britain trading.” Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris announced the plans yesterday and said the decision will have “a profound effect” on the nation’s economic recovery post-COVID.

He said: “Our freight industry has played an integral role through this pandemic, helping keep this country moving, and this investment will ensure it continues to support our economic recovery.” The government said the money will go towards developing track and signalling systems so that freight trains can be made up to 255 metres longer in order to transport more cargo between Southampton and the Midlands.

This would significantly increase the amount of cargo passing through Southampton’s docks, the UK’s second busiest container port. Mark Killick, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said: “The railway in Southampton plays a vital role in bringing goods into the country and sending exports overseas. “Our upgrades will support up to 14 extra containers for each train, providing a great boost for Britain’s freight network and those businesses relying on it to transport goods to stock shops, and materials for industry.”

MP for Southampton Itchen, Royston Smith, said the investment “shows how serious the Government is about levelling-up and improving our environment”.

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