PD Ports urges immediate rail action from U.K. government
PD Ports (PDP) has called on the U.K. government to take immediate action to modernize the country’s “Victorian era” rail infrastructure in order to cope with the anticipated cargo growth and to help meet its own emissions reduction targets.
Martyn Pellew, group development director for PDP, operators of Teesport in the North East, said the government’s lack of direction has left U.K. businesses with fewer modal choices, forcing them to use more costly and environmentally damaging road transport.
'In the North East there are lots of signs of inward investment. We have a strong manufacturing base and chemical industry and are as well placed as anywhere else to deal with the economic conditions,' Pellew said. “While the northern U.K. ports are well situated and capable of handling modern cargo, the railways surrounding them are not.”
PDP is undertaking a '300 million expansion of Teesport with a 1.5 million-TEU capacity deep-sea container terminal known as the Northern Gateway Container Terminal (NGCT), scheduled for opening in 2011. When NGCT is fully open, PDP wants to increase Teesport’s rail usage from about 13 trains per-day as it stands now by an extra 10 daily trains.
In particular, the company wants to see the 393-mile East Coast Mainline (ECML), which links London with Scotland and connects with Teesport and other North East ports, upgraded so that it is capable of handling 40-foot, high cube containers.
Pellew said that by 2015 two-thirds of all containers into the U.K. will be of the 9-foot, 6-inch high-cube variety.
“Clearly, changes have to be implemented soon in order for the U.K. rail networks to cope with the modern demands' he said.
'For our part, PD Ports recognizes that it will take a long time to get U.K. government approval and implementation for rail gauge enhancement, especially along the ECML. That's why, in order for the U.K. to be prepared for the future and to meet our own environmental criteria, we must start now to address all rail modernization issues within the U.K., especially those that will have the greatest impact in the years to come.
“While the rest of the world has made serious investment on rail modernization for freight, the U.K. government is still lagging behind. As countries throughout Europe, Asia and America are steadily preparing themselves for the growing demands of the global supply chain, the U.K. government's current lack of foresight as to where to direct strategic rail infrastructure enhancements could cause more severe economic and environmental consequences, both at home and abroad.” ' Simon Heaney