Orient Express stopped in its tracks

IT'S one of the best-known trains in the world - but the Orient Express is a no-go so far as Felixstowe is concerned.The world-famous train was due to travel to the resort next Tuesday at the end of a special excursion from London - but now a huge tourism opportunity is set to be missed.

IT'S one of the best-known trains in the world - but the Orient Express is a no-go so far as Felixstowe is concerned.

The world-famous train was due to travel to the resort next Tuesday at the end of a special excursion from London - but now a huge tourism opportunity is set to be missed.

Passengers from the capital are due to be wined and dined in both directions, and entertained by jazz star Acker Bilk at the Elizabeth Orwell Hotel.

But now they have been told their train will not get any further than Ipswich - and they'll be taken to Felixstowe in a fleet of coaches instead of arriving in style by rail.


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Network Rail told the train operators just weeks before the big event they could not go along the Felixstowe line because there is no room in the timetable.

Organiser of the trip, David Caddick, publicity manager for Felixstowe-based Arena Travel, said: “It's a real shame.

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“We are bringing these people to Felixstowe from London - they set off from Victoria - and it's a lovely tourism opportunity, but the rail people say the only way we can do it is if the Orient Express stays at Felixstowe from 1pm to 11pm and then leaves.

“We cannot do that.

“They also didn't tell us it couldn't happen until two weeks ago when everything was planned and we were expecting to see the train arrive in Felixstowe.”

Two trains an hour - one passenger and one freight - in each direction use the single-track rail line and can only pass each other at Derby Road.

The restrictions mean it is almost impossible to run special trains, except on Sundays when there are no freight trains to or from the port.

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said: “We did try to fit this train in, but it is a very busy line and there are 24 freight trains in each direction every day - with an hourly passenger service as well.

“On this occasion it simply wasn't possible to fit this train into the schedule - that's not to say the Orient Express will never go to Felixstowe again, but that line is working almost at capacity.”

Do you think the Felixstowe line should be improved to take more trains? Write to: Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk>

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