Work has started on a scheme to make 50,000 UK container freight journeys by rail instead of road.
Currently trains cannot easily carry the large modern containers used by global shipping firms, but Network Rail has begun a £71 million, 2-year project to develop a rail route from Southampton to Nuneaton and lessen the number of lorries on motorways.
The UK’s second largest deep-sea container station, DP World Southampton, is where huge numbers of electronics, food, metals, petroleum and aggregate products arrive in the country, often in 2.89m high-cube containers from the Far East.
To increase the number of trains moving goods containers, almost 50 sites along the route - which goes via Winchester, Basingstoke, Didcot, Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa and Warwick - will be widened over the next two years to allow high-cube containers through.
Transport minister Sadiq Khan said: “The government is investing £350 million in rail freight infrastructure - the most significant funding for many years - and this project is a key step towards the development of a strategic freight network in this country.”