New line needed for Felixstowe branch

DOUBLE-tracking or an extra passing loop is needed on the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line if it is to cope with projected extra freight cargo.That was the view today of villagers who say action must be taken on the line if Felixstowe port's plans for a massive expansion are to be given the go-ahead.

DOUBLE-tracking or an extra passing loop is needed on the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line if it is to cope with projected extra freight cargo.

That was the view today of villagers who say action must be taken on the line if Felixstowe port's plans for a massive expansion are to be given the go-ahead.

The container terminal is seeking permission to redevelop its southern terminal as part of work to double its capacity to 5.2 million standard-sized boxes a year.

It aims to put more cargo on the rails – and hopes that by 2023 around 26 per cent of cargo a year will be moved by train, more than one million boxes.


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But Trimley St Mary Parish Council is dubious over whether this figure, plus an hourly passenger service, can be achieved without major work to the line.

Suffolk County Council's aim for the line is to increase the passenger service frequency and in five to ten years to have a train every 15 to 30 minutes.

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Parish councillors say this could not be achieved without major investment in double tracking, given the projected degree of freight growth envisaged.

The council says port suggested capacity figures of 32 freight trains both in an out a day requires the line to work at its absolute maximum, with no comfort margin for delays or problems.

"Therefore it must be sensible for the plan to include some form of capacity enhancement to the present infrastructure, such as an additional passing loop between Trimley and Derby Road, or some selective double-tracking on this section," said the council.

"We consider the port's statement that 'all rail traffic forecast to be generated by the development could be accommodated on the railway' to be optimistic in the light of the government's aim to increase the share of freight carried by rail."

In their comments to Suffolk Coastal on the port's planning application, parish councillors also say it is essential "utmost priority" is given to the Felixstowe to Nuneaton cross-country rail project to boost freight cargo.

The Strategic Railway Authority has put the scheme on hold because of cash cutbacks, but it is vital if the new higher 9ft 6in containers are to be sent to northern destinations without having to be transported via London.

At present around 40 freight trains are using the 12-mile Ipswich-Felixstowe line each day. There is a passing loop at Derby Road, but from there to the port it is single track.

nShould the Ipswich to Felixstowe rail line be doubled? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail erveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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