Gauging reaction: How industry has responded to £15.5m South Bank rail investment

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 3 Jul 2017

ASSOCIATED British Ports has welcomed the £15.5 million funding for rail enhancements on the South Bank.

Immingham is the UK’s biggest port by tonnage of freight, and more than 20 per cent of all rail cargo starts its journey there.

It has been a long campaign to underline the need, and Humber port director Simon Bird has recognised contributions from many on the journey.

He said: “Rail gauge enhancements will unlock the potential for growth for our ports on the South Bank of the Humber.

"It will allow for the movement of more rail freight which will not only reduce traffic on our roads but increase competitiveness.

"This announcement is culmination of a lot of hard work by an number of people, including the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, and marks another significant milestone in strengthening business across the Humber.”

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​By the end of the decade, 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 by train, where local rail infrastructure only supports standard containers, meaning an extra burden for the roads.

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

As reported, the investment has been given the green light after North Lincolnshire Council, the Humber LEP and Network Rail brought funds together.

Humber LEP has allocated £7.2 million from the Local Growth Fund for the scheme. Network Rail has already allocated £7.5 million, and the council £800,000.

At British Steel, where the dedicated terminal at Immingham relies on rail to transport raw materials to the resurgent steelworks in Scunthorpe, the funding was given another huge thumbs-up. The company is also seeing a stronger export market too, with a dedicated distribution hub opened in Germany as it builds on the automotive market.

A spokesman said: “We welcome this announcement regarding the investment. It will provide significant new opportunities for businesses in this region, helping us to better serve the needs of our customers throughout the UK and beyond.”

Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce underlined the importance of an aligned campaign.

Dave Hooper, external affairs manager, said: “This is excellent news for the South Humber ports – it’s a project which is a regular topic of discussion at the Chamber’s Shipping and Transport Committee, so it’s great to see the money being made available at last for some essential work which will ensure the continued growth and prosperity of some of the country’s leading port facilities.

"It just serves to prove once again what can be achieved when all local stakeholders are pulling in the same direction."

Calling for a similar scheme on the North Bank to resolve issues between Hull and Gilberdyke, he added: "The more containers that can be transported by rail means less pressure on our increasingly busy road network – and that can only be a good thing."

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