Ellie Burrows, route director, Anglia.
While Santa has his work cut out flying through the air on Christmas Eve to deliver all our presents, it’s another critical form of transport that is helping us celebrate this festive season – rail freight.
Relying on rail
We are working with freight operators, ports and trade bodies to increase rail freight capacity and resilience, so that we can move more consumer goods – such as food, drink and clothes – around the country as we build up to Christmas.
Christmas – and the build up to it – is always a busy period, and this year disruption to shipping lines and HGV driver constraints have posed extra challenges.
The wine train
To help get all those Xboxes, mince pies and bottles of wine to your local retail stores, we’re increasing capacity to and from Britain’s busiest container port at Felixstowe from 37 to 40 return trips each day. This is equivalent to 100 more lorries.
We’re also helping operators to lay on extra freight trains at the Port of Tilbury. A new service to Wakefield is up and running, and a new weekly train has been introduced to supply a whopping 4.5 million bottles of wine to Tesco and Sainsbury’s before Christmas. I’m sure there are many of you raising a glass to that!
We’ve made changes to our engineering works which has lessened the disruptive effect on the Fenlands for the cross-country route from Felixstowe. This means we can run an additional long-distance freight train and continue to run five trains that would otherwise have needed to be cancelled. We’re continuing to amend engineering works in Anglia as we approach Christmas so we can maximise the number of freight services that can operate.
Delivering your Christmas
Even though the pandemic is still sadly a big part of our lives, I’m sure like me, you are hoping to be able to relax and enjoy the next couple of weeks, with everything you need to make it a bit special. I know that by enabling more freight services to run, getting food and drink to supermarkets, clothes and other goods to retailers, we’ve played our part in serving up a merry Christmas.
Best wishes for the festive season and a very Happy New Year.
Ellie and all the Network Rail Anglia team