Clampdown on smelly, noisy trains

ACTION is to be taken soon to stop noise and fumes from freight trains plaguing villagers alongside the Felixstowe-Ipswich line, a public inquiry heard.

ACTION is to be taken soon to stop noise and fumes from freight trains plaguing villagers alongside the Felixstowe-Ipswich line, a public inquiry heard.

Transport chiefs have pledged to solve the problem – and said it should be easy to achieve.

People in Chatsworth Crescent and Eaton Close at Trimley St Mary have suffered for years with trains, standing just yards from their rear gardens, pumping out diesel fumes and chugging away.

Freight trains from the port's northern terminal can stand for up to 20 minutes or more at Trimley Station as they wait for passenger trains to clear from the line, and while they wait they leave their engines running.

Some families say the noise is intolerable and worse at night when they can hear the trains idling, while they cannot use their gardens in summer or leave back windows open because of the fumes.

Stephen Purnell, a transport expert from Environmental Resources Management, told the inquiry in to the £242 million-plus expansion of Felixstowe port, that the investigations were taking place to see if the signal could be moved further back down the spur line to the port.

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In the meantime, train drivers will be advised to wait down line.

"Network Rail, the Strategic Rail Authority and Hutchison Ports have all taken this matter very seriously," he said.

"In discussions between Hutchison Ports and the main freight operator company, Freightliner, it does appear that, on instruction from Hutchison Ports, it is quite feasible for the freight trains to simply hold back further down the line.

"In other words, they don't have to stand quite so close to the housing while they are idling.

"I am not a noise expert, but that, I understand, will considerably reduce the noise impacts.

"Network Rail and the SRA are continuing to look at the issue themselves, but it does seem to be this can be solved in the short term by fairly easy procedures."

Villagers are concerned that if the amount of rail freight increases 23 per cent in the next 20 years, as forecast, they will be living near a bottleneck with more trains waiting on spurs of the spur line.

But the inquiry – sitting at the Hotel Elizabeth Orwell – was told dualling the rail line and other improvements would ease the flow of trains.

In its representations, Trimley St Mary Parish Council highlighted the problems of standing trains frequently waiting more than 30 minutes to get onto the line from the spur and the "unacceptable impact" on residents.

It suggested a solution could be to not allow trains to leave the port's rail terminal until they were guaranteed clear paths on to the Felixstowe-Ipswich line, or moving the signal further back.

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