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Bridge work to ease rail freight

PUBLISHED: 21:29 30 June 2003 | UPDATED: 14:03 03 March 2010

THREE bridges over the Ipswich to Felixstowe rail line dating back to the Victorian era are being rebuilt this summer to prepare the way for larger containers to use the rail line to the port.

THREE bridges over the Ipswich to Felixstowe rail line dating back to the Victorian era are being rebuilt this summer to prepare the way for larger containers to use the rail line to the port.

The bridges at Levington, Wellesley Road and Derby Road are having their arches removed and are being strengthened to make it possible to carry the larger containers.

The work is being carried out by Network Rail as behalf of the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) which is improving the rail line from Felixstowe to London.

This is the same project which will see Ipswich railway tunnel closed for eight weeks from July to September next year.

"They will be closed to road traffic, and the rail line will be closed on some Sundays over the summer," said a spokeswoman for Network Rail.

The work is being completed to allow trains to carry new containers which are nine and a half feet high rather than the current size of eight and a half feet.

Meanwhile the SRA said today that there was no question of the start of the new Greater Anglia franchise.

There had been suggestions that the new franchise, which is due to come into force in April next year, could be delayed until after the tunnel work was completed.

But a spokesman for the SRA insisted the selection process was now well underway and the franchise-holder would be announced at the start of next year.

"There is no question of the start of the Greater Anglia franchise being delayed," he said.

"We will name the preferred bidder early next year and they will take over in April as planned."

One of the first major headaches for the new franchise holder will be managing the problems caused by the closure of Ipswich tunnel.

This will be shut for eight weeks from July 11 to September 5 2004 while the tracks are lowered by about 18 inches to allow them to be used by trains pulling the new containers.

During that time a bus connection will link Ipswich with Manningtree – but about 30 minutes will be added to journey times between Suffolk and London.

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