Horse bridge plan

SPECIAL bridges for horses could be built over the Felixstowe-Ipswich railway line when it is dualled in a £40 million project to take more lorries off the roads.

SPECIAL bridges for horses could be built over the Felixstowe-Ipswich railway line when it is dualled in a £40 million project to take more lorries off the roads.

Port chiefs have admitted the scheme could mean the closure and diversion of some public footpaths, with bridges for people and horses over the twin line to ensure safety.

But Trimley St Martin villagers' biggest concern is the possibility of freight trains standing for long periods in the new double-track section, causing noise and pumping out fumes, as they wait for passenger trains to go up and down the line to Felixstowe on the remaining single track section.

Ian Chadney, senior manager for port development, said it was possible on occasions two freight trains might have to wait while the passenger train completed its journey.

Negotiations had been taking place with Network Rail and a “worst case” situation produced.

However, work was still taking place on timetabling and potential standing times had been reduced from about 12 minutes a time to just a couple of minutes. The port was pressing the railway authorities to try and come up with a timetable which removed standing trains altogether.

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Signals would be placed as far away from homes alongside the line as possible to keep any standing trains away from properties.

“The scheme we have so far is a worst case and we hope it will be better than that by the time the negotiations are complete,” said Mr Chadney.

“At present we believe five trains could be standing for a minute or so each, but we want to eradicate that altogether.

“People will question whether further changes would affect the passenger service, but the passenger service is sacrosanct, its timetable is set in stone and the local authority will accept no degradation of that service.”

But villagers are not so convinced. Parish council vice chairman John Barker said: “I am concerned that this will all be built and then things will change - two years down the line suddenly we find there are standing trains because of timetabling changes elsewhere.”

Footpaths at Thorpe Common, Thorpe Lane and Grimston Lane would see changes, with some diversions and new bridges. This was for safety and to reduce the problem with trains having to blow their whistles at crossings, keeping people awake at night.

The Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line will be dualled for four-and-a-half miles from Trimley station to the west of the new Levington Bridge, which is already wide enough for two trains.

At Ipswich, three extra sidings able to cater for 24 wagons each will be built at the existing marshalling yard next to Ranelagh Road.

It is needed to cope with the projected increase in rail freight to 26pc of all cargo over the next 20 years and enable another 12 trains a day to use the port.

Port Officials will make an application to carry out the work via a Transport and Works Act (TWA) Order on December 9.

If there are objections which cannot be resolved, a public inquiry will be held in summer 2006 and the government decision then expected in early 2007. Without an inquiry, a decision would be made much earlier.

Work is expected to start in early 2008 and be complete in about 11 months, and port owners Hutchison Whampoa will pay the £40m cost.>

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