Rail freight improvements set to boost economy

Rail freight network upgrades continue to boost the economy as Network Rail awards the contract to build a new rail link north of Nuneaton station to Atkins and Balfour Beatty.

Following Secretary of State approval last year for the Nuneaton North Chord, work begins now with construction due to complete in July 2012.

The new 1.4km section of track will link the existing cross-country rail route from Felixstowe to Nuneaton with the West Coast main line, allowing freight trains to travel through Nuneaton station without affecting passenger services, thereby helping to reduce disruption and making the railway more reliable.

The Nuneaton North Chord forms an important part of Network Rail’s strategic freight network, a programme of investment to improve freight capacity across Britain’s railway.

The scheme will provide for eight additional freight trains per day in each direction to and from Felixstowe, which will help take around 225,000 lorries off Britain’s roads.

The £28.3m scheme has been co-financed by Network Rail, the Department for Transport and the European Union’s TEN-T programme.

It complements the recent completion of gauge clearance across the entire cross-country route between the Port of Felixstowe and Nuneaton.

This means that for the first time, freight trains carrying the larger 9’6” or ‘high-cube’ containers increasingly used by global shipping companies can travel the length of the route.

This will enable freight trains to travel directly to the economic markets in West Midlands and north-west England without having to travel through north London, which they currently do, making a valuable contribution to the economy and helping Britain compete better in the global marketplace.

Tim Cook, senior sponsor at Network Rail, said:

“Britain relies on rail freight and this scheme is crucial because Nuneaton North Chord is a key part of our plans to improve freight capacity of the railway – one of the greenest methods of transporting goods.

“Rail currently transports over 100m tonnes of goods across the country every year. This is worth around £30bn per year and directly contributes £870m to the nation’s economy annually.

“As Britain’s imports increase we need to look at ways in which we can transport more goods around the country without putting additional pressure on roads.

“This scheme is an important part of helping us achieve this, whilst delivering a more efficient and reliable network for our passengers.”

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