PORT OWNER Hutchison is to fund a series of road and rail upgrades in eastern England after winning planning permission to expand Felixstowe port.
The extension is set to double container capacity and put a major strain on the single track branch line that serves the port.
As a result Hutchison will pay to dual 6km of the Felixstowe branch line between the port and the East Coast Main Line (ECML) to increase rail freight capacity. It is also funding upgrades to the ECML, which should take up to 500,000 lorries a year off the roads.
Upgrades to both rail lines will allow oversize containers to be carried on standard wagons and will increase the number of trains serving the port.
Safety improvements to junctions on the A14 and A12 are also planned.
Hutchinson is in discussions with the relevant authorities over the full extent of infrastructure changes.
Work is expected to be completed by 2009. The decision to fund the transport improvements follows a similar move by Shellhaven port developer P&O.