More work needed when rail lines dualled

SIX level crossings and two bridges will need to be widened when the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line is dualled, according to a new report today.Details of the huge engineering project have already been agreed between the Strategic Rail Authority, Felixstowe port owners Hutchison Ports, and Suffolk Coastal and the county council.

SIX level crossings and two bridges will need to be widened when the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line is dualled, according to a new report today.

Details of the huge engineering project have already been agreed between the Strategic Rail Authority, Felixstowe port owners Hutchison Ports, and Suffolk Coastal and the county council.

Work on the three-year multi-million pound project could start as early as next year and be completed by 2008.

Hutchison will pay for the scheme which will allow 700 metre long rail freight trains of 24 wagons of containers to use the port.

Work will also have to be done at the Ipswich marshalling yard to increase its capacity and allow the longer trains to be handled, including the construction of three extra 24-wagon sidings and alterations to other non-electrified sidings.

Other projects will also be carried out by 2009 outside the region to improve the routes of trains cross-country to Nuneaton and northern transport depots and ease the increasingly-congested tracks around London.

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If the proposed £242 million expansion of the container terminal gets the go-ahead, the boxport expects rail cargo to increase to 26 per cent of the cargo it handles by 2023.

However, a report on the future of the port's rail transport system said the Felixstowe-Ipswich line was already "approaching maximum practical capacity". It added the most effective solution would be to double track five miles from Trimley station to the Suffolk Showground.

This will double the number of trains the line can handle to 50 per day.

The full scope of the engineering work is currently being developed but would also include:

n a new 20mph crossover point near Trimley station to join the port spur to the branch line;

n five miles of extra track;

n new 60mph single line to double line junction at the end of the dualling;

n widening of six level crossings - three automatic half barrier; two user-operated ones; and a warning light one - plus modifications to foot crossings;

n widening of two bridges - at Nacton and on the A14;

n new signalling.

At some stage it may also be necessary to upgrade up to three level crossings because of the increased number of trains.

Although the work could start next year, the authorities say it will be triggered by the growth of the port's business and when the expansion project is built.

Meanwhile a freight train has derailed in a depot in Hampshire and collided with parked vehicles, rail company EWS said today.

The accident happened sometime after midnight in Eastleigh, as the train, made up of 15 wagons and carrying aggregate, was being shunted.

Any investigation would be carried out in partnership with the Health and Safety Executive, a spokesman for EWS added.

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