Level crossings to be modernised to make them safer on busier Felixstowe-Ipswich line

Levington level crossing - one of the four to be upgraded and made safer Picture: NETWORK RAIL

Levington level crossing - one of the four to be upgraded and made safer Picture: NETWORK RAIL - Credit: Archant

Work to upgrade four level crossings on the Felixstowe branch line will start next month to make crossing the railway safer for motorists and pedestrians as part of a £60.4m project to increase capacity.

Network Rail said the crossings at Morston Hall, Thorpe Lane, Levington and Westerfield will be temporarily closed while the work takes place to install full barriers, three with obstacle detection systems and one with CCTV.

Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “We’re focussed on reducing the impact for the people who live by the railway as much as possible.

“We have been talking with the communities affected to develop solutions to maintain vehicle access while these level crossings are closed. I want to thank everyone that has been involved in helping us to develop our plans to deliver these important upgrades which will improve safety for crossing users.”

Work to upgrade the level crossings can only be undertaken when trains are not running, usually at weekends to maintain safety.

This means that each level crossing will be closed for several weeks while the main upgrade work is completed over consecutive weekends.

Morston Hall will be closed from May 4 until May 28; Thorpe Lane from May 28 until June 17; Levington from May 25 until July 1; and Westerfield from May 25 until July 15.

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Over consecutive weekends when trains are suspended, each level crossing will then need to be upgraded, tested and brought back into service one by one. This is to ensure that the new equipment and signalling systems are performing as required and is safe for the public to use.

When the crossings are closed, access will be maintained for residents and businesses where possible and a number of diversions will be in place.

Diversions will involve:

•A temporary single-track access road suitable for private vehicles will be made available and managed by traffic marshals between Thorpe Lane and Morston Hall to allow residents to use either crossing when the other is closed.

•A diversion route for Levington will be in place with traffic marshals managing traffic to continue to allow access to the Suffolk Yacht Harbour and local farm land

•A vehicle diversion route will be in place for drivers travelling to/from Ipswich through Westerfield and a temporary pedestrian bridge will be installed to maintain access across the railway for residents.

This work is being done ahead of the expected increase in the number of freight trains using the Felixstowe-Ipswich branch line that serves the Port of Felixstowe once the project to create a dual line – in the form of a 1.4km passing loop – between Trimley St Martin and Nacton is complete.

Operating more trains on the branch lines requires an increased level of safety at the level crossings which is why they are being upgraded. The work is due to be completed by autumn.

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