£58million Felixstowe rail line ‘loop’ to increase port cargo to be ready in two years
PUBLISHED: 15:00 25 September 2017
A multi-million pound scheme to dual part of the Felixstowe-Ipswich branch line to increase its rail freight cargo capacity by nearly 30% should be completed by the end of 2019.
The project, which has been estimated to cost around £58million, will enable the number of trains running from the Port of Felixstowe, Britain’s busiest container terminal, to rise to 45 a day from the current 33.
This will take nearly 22,000 lorries off the A14 every year.
Network Rail senior development manager Alex Kirk told the Felixstowe Chamber of Trade and Commerce the project was now on schedule to be completed by December 2019 with work starting early next year.
It will include new bypass railway tracks, the closure of six crossings, with a new passing “loop” near Trimley.
The loop, just under a mile in length, will enable two freight trains to pass each other.
Mr Kirk said the improvements would provide a two-track system on parts of the Ipswich-Felixstowe link, which would help increase the number of freight trains for the port, as well as providing an improved rail passenger service for commuters between the town and Ipswich.
A public inquiry is to be held into the proposals to close the crossings following objections from horse riders, who fear their animals could be too scared to use a new £1.5million-plus rail crossing bridge put forward in the plans – and want officials to consider a tunnel instead.
Network Rail has put forward the bridleway bridge proposals for horse riders, cyclists and walkers as part of its submission for a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) as a safety measure.
The company has presented its designs to the British Horse Society to ensure the design is safe and on the society’s advice had included mounting blocks to give riders the option of dismounting before travelling over the bridge.
Suffolk Coastal District Council fully supports the dual rail line, which it feels is critical to the ongoing operation of the Port of Felixstowe in an increasingly competitive commercial environment.
However, the council has voiced “serious concerns” and held talks with Network Rail over the design of the bridge, which it feels would harm the AONB, and is also concerned over the future of a coppice near the track.