max temp: 16°C

min temp: 15°C


Region set for rail investment

07:00 08 January 2013

Network Rail is to spend £1.4 billion on the region

Network Rail is to spend £1.4 billion on the region's main line.

Archant © 2012

ABOUT £1.4 billion is to be spent improving the rail link between the region and London over the next five years.


Bosses at Network Rail expect the investment to make services more reliable and faster – and should pave the way to increasing capacity.

Ambitious proposals to build a third track to ease congestion between Chelmsford and Witham have not been included – although could emerge in future five year plans.

Network Rail Anglia route director Dave Ward said there were several challenges facing the operation of the line.

There were issues with capacity – it is not easy to fit any more trains into the timetable – track and points need replacing, and there were long-term ambitions to reduce journey times.

Mr Ward said: “What we are looking at here is putting in place the building blocks that should make the network more resilient and make some improvements which we can work on over future years.”

The total investment on the region’s railways should total £2.2 billion over the next five years, with about 70% of that going on the Great Eastern main line.

MPs and local authorities have drawn up a manifesto for the main line which calls for trains from London to routinely reach Ipswich in 60 minutes and Norwich in 90 minutes.

Mr Ward pointed out that a few trains already made the journey between London and Ipswich in 60 minutes, and said the state of the track was not the main issue – it was ensuring that they had a clear run.

Running trains from London to Norwich in 90 minutes was more problematic because there were a number of level crossings north of Ipswich which require trains to run at lower speeds.

Mr Ward said Network Rail would be working with local authorities to change 154 level crossings over the next five years.

Since 2009 90 level crossings in the region have been closed in East Anglia: “In many cases where there are rural level crossings, there is another crossing within a quarter to half a mile.

“Many are part of rights of way that existed long before the railway was built, but we need to work with local people and local authorities to make changes to benefit everyone.”

The Network Rail programme includes major improvements to Bow Junction, just south of Stratford station in East London which should make the approach to Liverpool Street more reliable.

A new station will be built at Beaulieu Park just north of Chelmsford, and there should be improvements to track and points along the route.

Mr Ward said: “We are looking at changing some of the tracks at Ipswich, Colchester, and Witham stations. This work would be particularly challenging because we want to work with the rail operator to ensure trains can continue to run while the work is going on.”

He said reliability had improved on the route over the last year, and was keen to ensure that continued.

“We have seen the reliability improve from 91% to 92.2% – it might not sound a great improvement, but over a 12-month period it is quite significant.”

One way of improving capacity on the line to London was to move freight trains away from the busy passenger route – which was now possible with the improvements to the cross-country line.

Most of the freight trains from Felixstowe are heading to the midlands, north of England, or Scotland and there is no need for them to head to London.

Until now freight operators have been reluctant to move their services away from the main line – but during the Olympics and Paralympics many freight services were moved away from the capital.

“During that time about 40% of freight went cross country and the companies found there was no major problem – so we may work with them to try to move more to those routes.”

Related articles



  • How about some trains that are not 25 year old rolling stock that hasn't been painted 10 times? One of the most expensive lines on the network, with no wifi and tramp trains compared to other routes.

    Report this comment

    Neil (Suffolk)

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

  • This is just a re, re, re announcement of many previous announcements. There is not a scrap of new information in this announcement

    Report this comment

    John Alborough

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Crown Pools in Ipswich, where a man reportedly exposed himself on Saturday.

A man has reportedly twice exposed himself to girls in the changing rooms of an Ipswich swimming pool.

Heart FM DJ Dave Taylor during the charity busking session on the Cornhill in Ipswich where he was accompanied by his producer Nick mellamphy and students from Ipswich High School for Girls.

Heart FM breakfast DJ Dave Taylor took on a charity challenge with a difference this afternoon – learning to busk classic songs with the help of high school students.

Police have cordoned off an alleyway between Blanche Street and Christchurch Street in Ipswich after a man was stabbed.

Police are hunting for three men after a man was stabbed in the chest in Ipswich last night.

Abellio Greater Anglia

Trains running between Essex and Suffolk and the capital face delays, alterations and cancellations due to a defective piece of track at Harold Wood.

Dan Poulter with employees at B&Q

A Suffolk MP has said he will do what he can to try and prevent a B&Q store closing down with the potential loss of around 100 jobs.

Julian King and Ian Lea talk about custom bikes at the Copdock Motorcycle Show.

There was something for all motorcycle enthusiasts at Trinity Park over the weekend as a popular event returned for its 24th year.

Urban caterer chef, Simon Daniels cooking the goumet burger at K Bar and Grill, St Nicholas Street, Ipswich.

We all love a good burger, so we’ve picked out some of our favourites from across Suffolk.

Lord Nelson

You might wonder why the Lord Nelson in Fore Street has a glazed brick elevation to the ground floor when it is clearly a timber framed building of some considerable age, writes John Norman, of the Ipswich Society.

Olly Rofix drove a tractor the length of the country to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust 10 years after he was diagnosed with leukaemia

A Suffolk adventurer has returned from his latest expedition – from Lands End to John O’Groats on the back of a 1952 tractor.

Sam Harvey - the war hero immortalised in our culture

Last week, Mike Peters told the story of Suffolk Victoria Cross winner Sergeant Arthur Saunders.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages