Ipswich: New rail line nears its spring completion date
06:00 09 January 2014
Work on the most significant new rail line in Suffolk for nearly 40 years is nearing completion after weekend engineering saw the installation of a new bridge on the East Suffolk line.
The £41 million project to build a new 1.2 km line from the branch line to face north west on the Great Eastern Main Line is due to be completed in April – and teams of engineers have been working through weekends to ensure it is finished.
Network Rail, working with contractors Spencer Rail Limited, successfully demolished and removed the old steel bridge weighing 190 tonnes over the River Gipping in Ipswich, replacing it with a new steel deck bridge at the start of the new junction for the chord.
The work included breaking the old bridge into the three sections using a 1000 ton crane, removing the existing track and ballast stones, installing concrete walls of the new bridge and installing new tracks and junction for the new chord.
The chord will remove the need for freight trains travelling to and from the Port of Felixstowe to use the sidings near Ipswich station as a turning point – eliminating a major bottleneck on the busy Great Eastern main line and freeing up capacity for both passenger and freight services.
Richard Schofield, route managing director Network Rail, said: “Demand for railway travel continues to grow and this project demonstrates our commitment to invest in the railway to support growth.
“It is vital that we create additional capacity alongside other enhancements along the cross country route between Felixstowe and Nuneaton.
“This is a key part of our plans to take more freight off roads and onto rail and is good news for the region’s economy.”
The project includes the completion of four new bridges, two new embankments, a 350m retaining wall, 1.2km of new track and signalling equipment, and improvements to the existing over head line equipment.
The chord forms an important part of Network Rail’s strategic freight network, a programme of investment to improve freight capacity across Britain’s railway.
Much of the work is being carried out at weekends – which has led to the some closures of the line with buses replacing trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe and Woodbridge.
However once the work is complete, it should enable many more freight trains from Felixstowe to travel cross-country – easing pressure on the main line to London.