£15m rail scheme will allow Britain to 'embrace Brexit opportunities' - Northern Powerhouse Minister

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 22 Nov 2018

A GOVERNMENT minister has described the £15 million South Bank rail enhancement as an investment to “ensure Britain’s largest port remains competitive, resilient and ready to embrace the opportunities that come with our departure from the European Union”.

Jake Berry, Local Growth Minister, was referring to the works now underway to upgrade the route between Immingham and Doncaster, boosting freight movement and helping keep more cargo off the region’s roads.

Network Rail has partnered with Humber Local Enterprise Partnership and North Lincolnshire Council to invest, allowing high cube shipping containers to run on standard height wagons. 

Mr Berry, who signed off the Grimsby Town Deal and took over the role following Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy's resignation, said: “This Government is committed to boosting economic growth across the whole of the Northern Powerhouse and building an economy which is fit for the future.

“This upgrade to the South Humber Rail Gauge, backed by £7.2m from the Local Growth Fund, will improve freight connectivity with the Port of Immingham. 

“This project will ensure that Britain’s largest port remains competitive, resilient and ready to embrace the opportunities that come with our departure from the European Union.”

As reported last month, new road bridges are at the heart of the project, for East Halton Road and Eastfield Road - between North and South Killingholme - as well as realignment of platforms at Brocklesby, Barnetby, Scunthorpe, Crowle, Thorne South and Hatfield & Stainforth. Signal relocation is a final plank.

Read more: £65m investment unveiled as ABP takes over British Steel's Immingham port operations

Lord Haskins, chairman of Humber LEP, said: “By 2020 more than half the containers arriving into UK ports will be ‘high cube’ containers. This scheme will ensure that the Humber’s freight infrastructure is fit for the future, while also improving the competitiveness of the Humber ports.

“The Humber ports are a vital asset for the North and the UK as a whole, so this welcome upgrade we are enabling in our area will also have positive benefits for the whole country.”   

High cubes currently entering the UK have to be carried on special low-floor wagons, pictured above, of which there is a limited supply. They are also more expensive to run and maintain.

Simon Bird, ABP Humber director, said: “The Port of Immingham is already the UK’s largest port by tonnage and has seen significant growth over the last few years, especially in terms of container volumes. Rail gauge enhancements will unlock the door to securing further growth by giving us a more diverse offer to customers and reduce congestion on our roads. This could not just be good news for the Humber, but unlock growth across the North and the Midlands.”

Read more: Keeping Britain growing: Port's role in farm support illustrated with huge shipment

Long-lobbied for, it was part of ministerial conversations on the port back in 2014 when Energy Minister Claire Perry, then with the rail remit, visited. Funding was signed off in July 2017.

The scheme is being delivered by AMCO, the main contractor, and is scheduled to be completed by the end of March. 

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