Passenger rail service safe

TRAVELLERS on the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line were today assured passenger services are safe – despite suggestions they could be axed to increase rail freight.

TRAVELLERS on the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line were today assured passenger services are safe - despite suggestions they could be axed to increase rail freight.

Felixstowe port has put forward a multi-million pound project to dual five miles of the track between Trimley and Warren Heath to double the cargo capacity of the line and take hundreds of thousands of lorries off the A14.

But it was suggested there would be no need to dual the line at all - if the hourly passenger service was removed.

This would allow ample timetable slots on the 12-mile line for the extra trains needed over the next 15 years if the port gets the go-ahead for its £240 million scheme to redevelop Landguard terminal.

However, train operator 'one' assured travellers passenger services on the route are safe for the next decade and beyond, and believes dualling could bring benefits for passenger services.

Its franchise for the line says it must continue to run the service, and the port will need the additional rail capacity - and so have to carry out the dualling - before the franchise runs out.

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"The Ipswich-Felixstowe line is certainly not under threat. The safety of the Ipswich-Felixstowe line is guaranteed for the life of the 'one' franchise - ten years - and beyond as it fulfils an important local transport need," said a company spokeswoman.

"We are fully committed to this service and other branch lines and work proactively to continually improve them and attract extra passengers.

"Indeed the proposed dualling of this line would be a big advantage for passengers using this line as it would bring improved infrastructure and the potential for more train services to the area."

The port hopes that rail cargo will increase to 26 per cent of the containers its terminals handle by 2023.

But this will still mean one million more extra lorries on the A14. Without dualling, it will mean even more trucks.

Dualling the track will double the number of trains the line can handle to 50 in and out per day. Currently the port has 23 inbound and 22 outbound trains per day from its north and south rail terminals.

Some port sources have indicated that work on the dualling could start this year but others say it will be triggered by the growth of the port's business and when the expansion project is built.

Other factors will also be the rate of increase in the use of the new high-cube containers, demand for rail cargo, and work elsewhere on the network to allow the freight trains to reach their destinations.

See tomorrow's Evening Star for indepth analysis of the dualling of the railway line.

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