Better connected ports and airports will help UK and regional businesses to thrive

The region has more international gateways than any other region in the UK - thirteen ports, including two freeports and three international airports. We support initiatives which improve capacity, journey times and reliability for freight, employees and passengers travelling to and from ports and airports and support decarbonisation and the shift to more sustainable modes.

Our unlocking international gateways has three goals:

  • Improve connectivity, journey time and reliability for freight, passengers and employees to ports and airports
  • Move goods and people sustainably to ports and airports
  • Increase the use of alternative fuels for both ports and airports
Improve connectivity, journey time and reliability

Better coastal connections are required at the strategic and local level to help attract and retain businesses and highly skilled employees.

We will make the case for investment to improve connectivity to these gateways, ensuring road improvement projects which are key to freight movement are prioritised through programmes such as the National Highway’s Roads Investment Strategy.

We will lead the development of a regional Future of Freight plan to identify sustainable solutions for goods movement that is sustainable and increases the capacity. Our work will also endorse accessible rail, bus and coach connections to airports and ports.

Upgrading Ely Rail Junction will benefit our international gateways

The Port of Felixstowe is Britain’s biggest and busiest container port. It plays a pivotal role in keeping the UK’s trade moving and delivering real benefits to customers, the community and the industry.

However, a mixture of single track sections, restricted speeds, signalling limitations and level crossings in the Ely area act as a barrier to meeting increased demand for freight paths on the routes to and from the UK’s industrial heartlands.

Transport East and England's Economic Heartland presented the case for upgrading the rail infrastructure around Ely. The upgrade will allow more capacity for rail freight, removing HGVs and carbon emissions from the road every year.

It will also support the development of Freeport East, one of eight new freeports created in England. The Ely Upgrade will enable the freeport to take advantage of the new opportunities enabled by Brexit, support the new trade deals being struck with overseas countries and help drive innovation.

Move goods and people sustainably

The location and twenty-four-hour operations of ports and airports means it is often harder to access them by sustainable modes. Working in partnership with partners we will investigate improvements to the rail network serving major ports and airports.

This includes working with major ports to improve existing rail connections, establishing rail freight hubs to help improve sustainable connections and promote the improvement of passenger rail services to ports.

Increase use of alternative fuels for both ports and airports

Our insight indicates around half of the region’s transport emissions are generated by freight movement.

Moving freight to rail where possible is an important measure, but this will not remove all HGV movements, which will require new solutions to reduce emissions.

We will develop evidence to accelerate hydrogen and EV infrastructure across the East and promote the use of alternative fuels across the freight industry, ports, airports, bus and coach operators.