Dual rail line on track for Felixstowe

FIVE miles of the single-track Felixstowe to Ipswich railway line could be dualled to enable more containers to travel by train, it was revealed today.

FIVE miles of the single-track Felixstowe to Ipswich railway line could be dualled to enable more containers to travel by train, it was revealed today.

Port chiefs explained the multi-million pound project to parish councillors in a top-level meeting to discuss ways of reducing the impact of port expansion on the community.

The port has a target of moving 26 per cent of its containers – 1.1 million standard-sized boxes – by 2023, but has to find a way of getting more trains in and out each day.

Consultants say at least 32 trains a day will be needed to shift such a huge amount of boxes – a three-fold increase on the current 340,000 a year – and some experts doubt this could be accommodated on the current single track.

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Plans had been drawn up to dual the line at a meeting to discuss a package of mitigation measures to be done as part of the next port expansion scheme.

Trimley councillor Hazel Blackshaw said five miles of line on the peninsula up to Sainsbury's at Warren Heath could be made double-track to enable freight and passenger trains to pass and increase the number of cargo services.

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She said: "One of our biggest concerns has been the length of time freight trains stand with their engines running at Trimley, causing all sorts of problems with noise and fumes, waiting for the line to clear.

"If the line is dualled there will be far less need for engines to stand waiting than there is at present."

The port has said dualling the line could be an option if a scheme was feasible and enough land was available.

But it is also looking at other action which will need to be taken to increase the amount of rail freight, particularly the need to upgrade the cross-country Felixstowe to Nuneaton rail link.

Work needs to be done on the route to improve tunnels, bridges and stretches of track so the line can take the new higher 9ft 6in containers.

Of the port's 21 trains out and 22 in a day only four go cross-country and the rest all go via the congested London route, on which work has been done to allow the larger boxes to travel.

Paul Davey, port corporate affairs manager, said meetings had been held with the SRA – which has sidelined the Nuneaton link work because of budget cut-backs – and more were planned.

Consultants were looking at whether it was possible to do some work to ease the situation and improve usage of the link but leave other work to later phases.

Five years ago £8 million was spent on the Felixstowe line to modernise signalling and create an 800 metre passing loop for freight trains at Derby Road.

Do you think dualling the track is a good idea? Write to us at Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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