Currently 33 daily train pairs operate between the port and 17 different inland destinations. According to the port over 100M HGV miles per year are already saved by using rail freight from Felixstowe.
Under the scheme the single track line between Felixstowe and Ipswich will be doubled. From 2019 47 train pairs will be able to operate in an out of the port.
The news has been welcomed by Freightliner, DB Cargo and GB Railfreight. Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s Route Managing Director for Anglia, said: “We’re improving the Felixstowe branch line to provide a step change for rail freight in Suffolk and beyond as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan.
"We’re supporting the growth of the UK economy by enabling more goods to be transported on the railway and reducing the number of lorries on the road. The work will also create a safer and more reliable railway for passengers travelling between Ipswich and Felixstowe.”
Network Rail is delivering the project to enable more goods to be transported by rail, supporting the growth of the UK economy, as part of its Railway Upgrade Plan. In the coming months, engineers will start clearing vegetation in preparation for building the second track.
The upgrade was first authorisied in 2008, but was delayed because of the port's concerns over funding. The line was acquired from the port by Network Rail by a means of a "compulsory acquisition," which was approved by the government in August this year.
The size of Hutchison Ports' contribution to the Network Rail scheme has not been disclosed, although Network Rail has said it is "significant."