New promise over rail line

RESIDENTS were told today they will definitely have a say on the multi-million pound scheme to dual the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line.There had been fears the mammoth engineering project would be a foregone conclusion if Felixstowe port's planned £240 million expansion is given the go-ahead.

RESIDENTS were told today they will definitely have a say on the multi-million pound scheme to dual the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line.

There had been fears the mammoth engineering project would be a foregone conclusion if Felixstowe port's planned £240 million expansion is given the go-ahead.

It was suggested permission for the five miles of double tracking of the line – to cope with the expected increase in rail freight over the next 20 years – would be part of the redevelopment consent.

But now it has been revealed the port will have to apply separately for permission for the dualling from Trimley station to Nacton.

Trimley St Mary Parish Council has received a letter from the port saying work is already under way on the early stages of the background work for the dualling.

This includes preparation of an environmental statement detailing the impact the extra track will have on the countryside, habitat, and wildlife living alongside the line.

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Virtually all the land needed for the project is in railway ownership.

The line is expected to run along the edges of fields, but it will skirt several tree belts and it is understood a small section of woodland on the outskirts of Nacton, just past Seven Hills, may need to be purchased.

The port will also need to apply to Whitehall for a Transport and Works Act Order.

Parish council chairman Richard Kerry said the port letter indicated there would be consultation.

"They are hoping to put in the application later this year but the letter said a list of consultees is being drawn up and that full consultation will take place in due course," he said.

"I think that is very good news because we will want to see the details and have a chance to have an input."

Not just Trimley St Mary Parish Council will be asked for views, but all the parishes along the line as well as county and district councils, wildlife organisations, transport bodies, and other interested parties.

The government expects to receive the report of the public inquiry inspector into the redevelopment of Landguard Terminal to double the port's capacity this month, but a result could still be some months away.

Even if rail cargo increases to the target of 26 per cent of the containers the port handles by 2023, it will still mean one million more extra lorries on the A14. Without dualling, it will mean even more trucks.

Six level crossings will need major work, one bridge widened and another rebuilt, in the dualling scheme which will take three years to complete.

Hutchison Ports will pay for the project, which will allow 700-metre long freight trains to use the port.

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