£15.5m rail boost for South Bank freight to make it fit for the future

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 3 Jul 2017

LONG-sought rail investment has been given the green light on the South Bank after North Lincolnshire Council, Humber LEP and Network Rail joined forces.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​By around 2020 more than 50 per cent of rail containers destined for UK ports will arrive on ‘high cube’ containers. It is not currently possible to transport them to and from the South Humber ports, where local rail infrastructure only supports standard containers.

BIGGER BOXES: The high cube containers. Picture courtesy of UK Railway Pics

Gauge enhancement work is required on the route taking in Killingholme, Immingham and Doncaster, includes addressing bridge limitations for height and width implications with existing platforms. Other structures will also be removed.

An application was submitted to Humber Local Enterprise Partnership to secure funding to enable the works. Humber LEP has now given the go ahead and allocated £7.2 million from Local Growth Fund for the scheme. Network Rail has already allocated £7.5 million, and the council £800,000.

​Cllr Rob Waltham MBE, pictured left, leader of North Lincolnshire Council, said: "This will deliver much-needed enhancements to gauge for the rail network throughout North Lincolnshire. Currently, the rail networks are limited to the types of containers that can pass through North Lincolnshire. By working with Network Rail and Humber LEP we have been able to secure funding to be able to deliver this fundamental project that will open up further business opportunities for the area.

“The Government’s commitment via the Humber LEP to provide over £7 million investment in infrastructure will help boost the North Lincolnshire economy.

“The project supports North Lincolnshire’s Local Development Framework and will open up opportunities for the area. It is expected that 50 jobs will be created both this year and next year in the construction sector to help carry out the work needed.”

Works that will be carried out throughout the scheme include bridge reconstruction, track lowering through bridges, copper realignment at platform edges and signal relocation. The vast majority of the works will take place during the no trains periods at weekends - late Saturday night into Sunday morning - and during Christmas Day/Boxing Day.

The Local Growth Fund money will be used to complete the enhancements, with it expected to be complete by January 2019.

​Lord Haskins, Humber LEP chairman, said: "This project will help to secure the long term competitiveness of the South Humber ports and create opportunities for further development.  Securing infrastructure investment is an important priority for the LEP because it is essential for supporting growth."

The gauge enhancements have been on the agenda for some time. Then Rail Minister Claire Perry was welcomed to Port of Immingham in 2014 as part of one lobbying effort. Now Energy Minister, she met with Simon Brett, head of projects for the Humber at Associated British Ports, as well as South Bank MPs and council officials.

Richard Iggulden, senior development manager for Network Rail, added: "North Lincolnshire is very important within the context of rail freight in the UK, as a large proportion of the country’s rail-freight traffic is generated from the Port of Immingham and British Steel at Scunthorpe. This investment will result in further future growth in rail-freight, to and from the county.”

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