Maritime & Marine

Port of Southampton on track to double capacity as minister hails opening of new Solent Rail Terminal

Rail minister Huw Merriman (third from left) joined ABP Southampton and Solent Stevedores at the Port of Southampton.

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: March 21, 2024 | Updated: 22nd March 2024

The Solent Rail Terminal is officially open, and the man to do it was minister for rail and HS2 Huw Merriman.

On Wednesday the minister visited the Port of Southampton to meet with representatives from Associated British Ports (ABP) and Solent Stevedores, whose joint £17.5 million investment aims to cement the city as the UK’s leading gateway for deep-sea trade.

ABP Southampton logoThe project has yielded an 18-acre facility which can handle laden and empty containers, plus storage, maintenance and repair, all within a single-site boundary – a first for the port.

The larger site includes a new track layout to allow for simultaneous train arrival and departures, boosting the terminal’s efficiency and extending the rail loading pad by 130m.

Overall, it should be able to accommodate a 71 per cent increase in daily services and handle 125 per cent more containers.

Alastair WelchAlastair Welch, regional director of ABP Southampton, said: “This project is a great example of expanding container handling, increasing rail use, reducing reliance on HGVs and offering new services within the port boundary.

“We’re 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.”

Stuart Cullen, executive chairman of Solent Stevedores, added: “The completion of this project marks a major shift for intermodal transport at the Port of Southampton.

Stuart Cullen“This is the latest project in our long-term investment programme, and it’s 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.”

The 18-month project was undertaken by contractors Ryebridge Construction.

Even before completion it was celebrated for Driving Rail Freight Growth at last year’s RFG Awards, recognising the benefit of the new infrastructure to the environment and economy.

Image: David Woolfall, CC BY 3.0

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 per cent 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 multimillion-pound upgrade will provide the increased capacity to allow the Port of Southampton to thrive.”

James and Niall, Co-Founders of NovaturaTo get the best of Hampshire Biz News straight to your inbox every week, sign up for our newsletter!

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