The UK’s Port of Sunderland has started using its rail line after more than 20 years, following a trial run on the newly connected infrastructure.
Rail infrastructure operator Network Rail has invested £600,000 to renovate the former rail line into the port, allowing it to enhance its freight operations.
UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin witnessed the trial run, which was conducted using a Class 66 locomotive by rail freight haulier DB Schenker and Network Rail.
McLoughlin said: "As part of the government’s long-term economic plan, we are investing record amounts in improving road and rail connections so that ports like Sunderland can realise their full potential and contribute to regional growth.
"The reconnection of the port’s rail link will boost its import and export capabilities significantly."
The Port of Sunderland currently handles more than 700,000t of cargo every year.
This new development will see up to five trains servicing on the line, linking the port with the East Coast mainline. The freight trains will subsequently be able to connect with the wider rail network and mainland Europe via the Channel Tunnel.
The maintenance work on the line is about to completed and the line is expected to ready for commercial operations soon.
Meanwhile, the port will also benefit from the third Wear crossing, which is expected to be operational this year.
This new bridge will help the port to link with trunk roads such as the A19 and A1, enhancing its transportation facilities.
Image: UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Sunderland Port director Matthew Hunt. Photo: courtesy of UK Department for Transport.