AN HOURLY service between Ipswich and Peterborough is coming closer following the publication of Network Rail’s five-year plan.

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That would mean Bury St Edmunds would have two trains an hour to Ipswich with direct links to London.

The upgrade of the cross-country line is mainly to make the route more attractive to freight trains between Felixstowe, the midlands and the north of England.

However an hourly service between Ipswich and Peterborough is a long-standing aim of train operator Greater Anglia and the new plan from Network Rail brings that closer.

There are several major improvements proposed for the line – junction improvements at Haughley, improving speeds either side of Bury St Edmunds, doubling the track through Soham in Cambridgeshire and reopening the station in the town that was closed under the Beeching axe, and improving the junction to the north of Ely.

The improvements are due to be completed during 2017, although the hourly service to Peterborough could be introduced before then – it is expected to be a requirement of the new rail franchise for the region which is currently due to start in July next year.

The cross-country route is seen as a vital artery for the region.

More freight from Felixstowe and Harwich is expected to be transfered from road to rail – and there is no further capacity for more freight on the main line to London.

Work has just started on creating the “Ipswich cord” which will allow freight trains from Felixstowe to head north west without being turned at the Ipswich.

Haughley Junction is a major bottleneck – it was turned into a single-track junction under rationalisation in the 1960s and the changes should improve journey times significantly.

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