Thursday 19 Aug 2004

PHOTOCALL: MINISTER VISITS IPSWICH RAIL TUNNEL

Region & Route:
South East
Anglia
Eastern
Southern
Date/Time:         13.00, Tuesday 24 August 2004 Place:                   Ipswich station conference room (platform 3) Contact:              Laura Dobson 020 7557 8103 or Karen Sinclair 020 7557 8291 You are invited to join Dr Kim Howells MP, Transport Minister; Bill Reeve, Director, Sponsorship, Strategic Rail Authority and Network Rail at Ipswich rail tunnel, as the Minister visits the site of ongoing work to lower the track for larger freight containers.  The 8 week closure of Ipswich tunnel is the final stage in the £40m project to upgrade the freight route between Felixstowe and the Midlands, specified and funded by the Strategic Rail Authority and delivered by Network Rail.  Once complete, it will allow 9’6’’ freight containers to travel for the first time from the Port of Felixstowe to terminals on the West Coast Main Line, encouraging the growth of the rail freight market and reducing the amount of lorries on East Anglia’s already busy roads. The Port of Felixstowe is the largest container port in the UK, receiving 1.7 million freight containers each year.  Around one fifth of these containers are currently transported by rail to destinations in the West Midlands, North West, North East and Scotland, and one freight train can carry the equivalent of up to 75 lorries.  - more - F2N - 2 There is a clear international trend to increase the height of freight containers from 8’6’’ to 9’6’’ and it is anticipated that by 2010, 850,000 or half of all freight containers arriving into the Port of Felixstowe will be 9’6’’.  This project has been designed to enable the railway to meet this trend in order for rail freight to remain competitive against road transport.  Mark Livock, Network Rail Project Director, said: “The work to Ipswich tunnel is a key milestone in the project to upgrade the freight route between Felixstowe and the Midlands, which is vital to the future of rail freight in East Anglia.  Network Rail is committed to improving Britain’s railway, and we are grateful for the continuing support from passengers and local communities during the closure.” Bill Reeve, Director, Sponsorship,  Strategic Rail Authority said: “Keeping lorries off our overcrowded roads benefits everyone as transporting goods by rail reduces harmful air pollution as well as congestion.  We appreciate that the temporary closure of Ipswich tunnel has caused some inconvenience for passengers, but we are confident that everyone will agree that the long term gain far outweighs the short term pain.” Please confirm your attendance with Laura Dobson or Karen Sinclair by phone or to Laura.Dobson@networkrail.co.uk / Karen.Sinclair@networkrail.co.uk. Media contacts:        Network Rail press office              020 7557 8103/7 SRA press office                              020 7654 6339

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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

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