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Huge boost to Southampton’s rail freight capacity

The Freightliner Maritime Terminal located in Redbridge is connected to the container terminal in Southampton’s Western Docks and operates 24 hours a day, six days a week, seeing some 800 containers on some 14 freight trains pass through the site each day.

Between now and February 2021, £17m is to be invested into a major rail upgrade to freight services in Southampton. This investment will be for track and signalling infrastructure to support the lengthening of freight trains.

Currently, freight service trains are restricted to a length of 520 metres in the Southampton area. This new investment will allow a rise to a length of 775 metres, thus increasing capacity and allowing an extra seven trailers to be transported on a single service. The government says this upgrade in freight capacity will help boost economy by increasing the volume of goods transported to and from the Midlands from country’s second-busiest container port.

Network Rail engineers will work on a series of improvements to the railway in the Millbrook, Redbridge and Southampton Central areas. New sidings have already been installed for the much longer trains and Network Rail will now amend some sections of track, crossings and switching equipment as well as commission a new signalling system to complete the development.

Chris Heaton-Harris, rail minister, said:

“The injection of funding into the expansion of freight capacity will have a profound effect. Not only will this lead to a greener and more cost-efficient way to transport freight from Southampton, but the economic benefits will also be substantial. Our freight industry has played an integral role through this pandemic, helping keep this country moving, and this investment will ensure it continues to support our economic recovery.”

The upgrade to Southampton is the second enhancement to rail freight on the English south coast this year, the summer seeing freight trains moving again from the Port of Newhaven.

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