Rail Minister opens new multi-million-pound rail investment at the Port of Southampton

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Alastair Welch, Regional Director of ABP Southampton, Stuart Cullen, Executive Chairman of Solent Stevedores, Rail Minister Hew Merriman, Fiona Robson, Managing Director of Solent Stevedores and Mark Hooper, Rail and Containers Director of Solent Stevedores at the Solent Rail Terminal opening.

The Minister for Rail and HS2, Huw Merriman, officially opened the new Solent Rail Terminal marking the completion of the £17.5 million partnership investment between Associated British Ports (ABP) and Solent Stevedores.

The multi-million-pound rail upgrade project, which strengthens Southampton’s leading position as the UK’s number one gateway for deep-sea trade, took 18 months to complete. This significant milestone was marked with a plaque unveiling at an event for rail freight and maritime leaders and customers on 20 March at the Solent Stevedores’ operated Solent Rail Terminal in the western docks.

This major investment into the future of rail at the port has created an 18-acre facility expanding the intermodal rail transport site to broaden the service offer with laden and empty container handling, storage, maintenance, and repair within a single-site boundary – a first for the Port of Southampton.

Features of the new site include a newly designed track layout facilitating simultaneous train arrival and departures increasing the terminal’s efficiency and extending the rail loading pad by 130m. The larger intermodal site including container storage with full maintenance and repair facilities will be able to handle a 71% increase in daily services with a 125% increase in number of containers handled.

This new offering for deep sea shipping lines has already won an award for Driving Rail Freight Growth at the RFG Awards last year recognising companies that have helped boost rail freight growth providing a benefit to the environment and economy.

The construction work undertaken by contractors Ryebridge Construction has further strengthened the rail facilities for customers at the Port of Southampton giving them greater choice over their container placement and storage.

Stuart Cullen, Executive Chairman of Solent Stevedores, said: “The completion of this project marks a major shift for intermodal transport at the Port of Southampton. This is the latest project in our long-term investment programme, and it has greatly expanded our offering for container management at the port. Along with generating a significant increase in our efficiency at the rail terminal, it goes a long way to supporting the Government’s targets of reaching Net Zero by 2050.

Alastair Welch, Regional Director of ABP Southampton, said: “This project is a great example of expanding container handling, increasing rail use, reducing reliance on HVGs, and offering new services within the port boundary. We are proud of our continued partnership with Solent Stevedores, supporting them on their journey to reduce carbon emissions both within their operations and across the wider port.”

Rail Minister Huw Merriman said: “The railway plays a vital role in transporting goods to and from ports across the UK, keeping the country moving and boosting economic growth. That’s why last year this Government set an ambitious target to grow rail freight by at least 75% by 2050.

“Today’s opening of the Solent Rail Terminal demonstrates the strength of the industry and its ambitions to grow, and I’m pleased that this multi-million-pound upgrade will provide the increased capacity to allow the Port of Southampton to thrive.”