South Bank railfreight link to be explored after funding win

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 7 Jan 2019

First steps in an ambitious bid to open up a massively under-used rail line on the South Humber Bank are being made after funding was secured to look into modernising the route for freight use.

If realised it could provide a significant boost to the local authority’s high profile strategy to swell employment opportunities and enhance the area’s industrial might, acting as an additional incentive to attract further inward investment.

The five mile track, known as ‘Grimsby Light Single’ by virtue of it being a solitary line, links the town’s commercial docks with Port of Immingham, running directly through North East Lincolnshire’s largest economic development zone. 

Cllr Peter Wheatley, who heads up the regeneration portfolio at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “It’s great that this funding bid has been approved. As part of the South Humber project, we’ve been looking at the infrastructure of the transport network between Grimsby and Immingham. Part of this has already come to fruition in the case of the South Humber Bank Link Road which will be starting on site shortly. The other element is to investigate the possibility of whether the light railway line could be brought back into use to support developments in North East Lincolnshire and take traffic between the ports and the development land off the A180 and that’s what this funding will be used to investigate.”

Councillor Peter Wheatley, NELC portfolio holder for regeneration, housing, skills and assets.

The funding, for a feasibility study, is part of a £155,000 pot secured by Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership from the Government’s new Manufacturing Zones initiative, having worked with North East Lincolnshire Council on the bid. It will also be used to help address infrastructure issues on food enterprise zones secured by the LEP for Europarc and sites in Hemswell and Holbeach.

Read more: Date set for £8m South Humber road link work to start

David Robinson, investment manager for NELC, said: “The infrastructure creates an opportunity for us. The South Humber Industrial Investment Programme is focused on that area north of the A180, between the two port estates, and it makes sense to have a look at a very under utilised resource and see how that can be best used for the benefit of the area. This money allows us to look at it properly.”  

With carbon footprints and fuel costs high on business agendas, rail use and potential for new rail heads to feed strategic sites could be a big plus, be it from port to plant or further afield.  

Major gauge enhancements are already underway between the UK’s largest port and Doncaster, as part of a £15 million enhancement scheme to boost freight use. Neither scheme impacts on rail passengers. 

Read more: South Bank site selected for first UK green jet fuel refinery

Ruth Carver, Greater Lincolnshire LEP director, said: “This is welcome news for Greater Lincolnshire. It will allow us to build on our local economic strengths.

“This new status and funding will accelerate the delivery of Greater Lincolnshire’s three food enterprise zones as well as the South Humber Industrial Investment Programme. Many businesses utilising the zones have found limitations in infrastructure and transport are constraining their ability to grow. This much-needed funding will help us address these issues by undertaking studies into modernising infrastructure and the transport network in a way which supports growth.

“This bid will provide a small amount of funding, but by targeting it in the way that is being proposed the outcomes will be significant.”

Track and fields - running the rule over the rail:

The route of the Grimsby District Single

‘Grimsby Light Single’ dates back to the construction of Port of Immingham, in the early 1900s, and was one of three standard gauge railways built to serve it, with the others terminating at Barton and Barnetby. It opened in 1906 ahead of the completion of the locked dock in 1912.

From what is proudly the UK’s largest port by tonnage, it runs east under Queens Road, the eastern access road to the port, then over Kiln Lane and South Marsh Road in Stallingborough. From there, it runs through the major development land that forms the SHIIP project, before entering Grimsby parallel to the £8 million road scheme that will be underway later this month, close to Lenzing Fibers and the former Courtaulds site. From what will be known as Humber Gate Enterprise Park, it crosses Woad Lane just north of the entrance to Great Grimsby Business Park - behind the original Seachill site - then forms the northern border of South Humberside Industrial Estate, running along the southern edge of the sports facilities of Novartis and what was Tioxide, themselves separated by the substantial Dunlop Oil and Marine hose manufacturing site, before crossing Gilbey Road and looping around the town’s municipal waste facilities. From there it heads beneath the first raised element on the eastbound A180, to connect with the Cleethorpes to Manchester line, having run south alongside the River Freshney. 

Spurs run off to the western quayside of Royal Dock, traversing Moody Lane and along Westside Road to the north of Alexandra Dock, as well as to warehousing off Kiln Lane, Stallingborough. It also used to support what became Novartis and Tioxide, with historic spurs giving access on to the major Humber bank sites. 

Sporadic use has been known, with speed restricted due to the age of the infrastructure. 

With funding now confirmed, North East Lincolnshire Council will look to set out exactly how it is planning to take the feasibility study forward, prior to appointing rail planning specialists to conduct it.

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