Completion of an £8.3m rail upgrade means a doubling of rail freight capacity in and out of the Port of Liverpool, helping to cut carbon emissions. Tony McDonough reports
Freight train capacity to and from the Port of Liverpool has now doubled after the completion of an £8.3m rail upgrade.
Trains began running again on the Bootle branch line in September and the upgrade project, funded by the Department for Transport, will see up to two freight trains an hour in each direction.
This is good news for the port which, thanks to the opening of the Liverpool2 deep water container facility five years ago, has seen a significant increase in container ships coming up the Mersey. Shipping lines have switched their business from congested southern English ports, such as Felixstowe, to Liverpool.
With pressure on the road network growing this will make it easier for goods to be moved in and out of the port and will also help meet net zero carbon targets in the coming years. This latest rail upgrade will alleviate pressure on the pinch point between the West Coast Main Line and the port.
David Huck, Peel Ports managing director, said: “This is truly transformational news for the Port of Liverpool and for the future of sustainable supply chains.
“The new rail line upgrade enables even more choice and connectivity for customers by providing four departures per day from the container terminal. This is in addition to our long standing bulk rail services.
“We can now reach the central belt of Scotland as well as East and West Midland destinations with ease. Combined with our significant investments in infrastructure, our people, processes and technology, the news further strengthens the proposition for Liverpool as a strong, viable alternative location to southern ports.”
Goods which pass through the Port of Liverpool and will benefit from this rail freight upgrade include the export of Scottish goods such as shortbread and whisky to American markets by DB Cargo.
A new GB Railfreight service between Liverpool and the East Midlands also launched in late 2020, aiming to take 20,000 lorry journeys off the roads and avoid some of the most congested motorways in the country.
Phil James, North West route director at Network Rail, added: “With a new 400m double tracked railway successfully in place, it gives the Port of Liverpool increased capacity to transport more goods by train. This will cut carbon emissions and reduce congestion by taking lorries off our roads, helping the country build back better after the pandemic.”