Concern over 2012 rail congestion

EXTRA traffic on the trains in east London because of the Olympics could disrupt rail freight from Felixstowe port.Community leaders say it is essential a cross-country route is upgraded to take more rail cargo trains now to avoid the problems when 2012 arrives.

EXTRA traffic on the trains in east London because of the Olympics could disrupt rail freight from Felixstowe port.

Community leaders say it is essential a cross-country route is upgraded to take more rail cargo trains now to avoid the problems when 2012 arrives.

Campaigners have been disappointed because the government is not supporting a bid for Euro cash for the upgrading of the Felixstowe to Nuneaton route, which would take more lorries off the busy A14 and help ease congestion problems.

Despite lobbying by the East of England Development Agency and the Port of Felixstowe, so far government has not given the route its backing - and says further work is needed with Network Rail to finalise proposals for its future use.

Suffolk county councillor Guy McGregor, chairman of the East of England Regional Transport Forum, said improving the Felixstowe to Nuneaton link was key to reducing pressure on the A14 and is calling for the Department of Transport to take advantage of European funding to attract more national freight.

He expressed the forum's surprise and dismay that government has not submitted the project to upgrade the rail route.

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“We have support for the upgraded link from Ken Livingstone's office in London as well as colleagues in the eastern region,” said Mr McGregor.

“Additional traffic to Stratford for the Olympics means we will need to divert freight away from the north London line and so the cross-country line from Felixstowe to Nuneaton is essential and we need to keep this on government's agenda.

“It makes sense for rail freight movements to be moved east west from Felixstowe and Harwich to Nuneaton and the west coast main line, to avoid the north London Line which will be under increased pressure as 2012 draws closer.”

Kathy Pollard, chairman of the regional assembly's Europe panel, said: “If the government is serious about reducing congestion on roads like the A14 it needs to put its money where its mouth is.”

Tom Harris, parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Transport, said: “Discussions are continuing with interested parties on proposals for improvements west of Peterborough. Separately, an application has been made to the secretary of state for an order under the Transport and Works Act to authorise improvements to the Ipswich-Felixstowe branch line, and Hutchison Ports has agreed to fund these works (if approved) as well as gauge clearance as far as Peterborough.”

Do you want to see more cargo moved by rail? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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