Port letting train take the strain

ipswich: The rail link to Cliff Quay may have closed nearly two decades ago, but freight trains still play an important role for the Port of Ipswich.

Two container trains a day travel from the West Bank Terminal in Ipswich to Hams Hall near Birmingham – and they have become more obvious following a recent change in their timetable.

The trains reach the terminal from the south of the Stoke tunnel over Wherstead Road, and early commuters now regularly see containers sitting on a train over the road as they head towards the town in the morning.

Deputy port manager Roger Arundale said the trains did not represent an increase in rail freight from the port at present.

He said: “We have been running two trains a day for some time. Until recently one of them ran in the very early hours of the morning.

“That has now been scheduled for a bit later, sometime around 7am, so more people are seeing it on the bridge as they come in to the town.

“We would like to put more freight on the rails in the future – we will have to see if that happens.”

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The rail link to Cliff Quay went through the Ipswich Lower Yard behind the old B and Q store and across Bridge Street beside Stoke Bridge before running across the Wet Dock island and the old lock gates at the entrance to the Wet Dock.

The last train used this link in 1992, but the tracks remained across Stoke Street until earlier this year.

At one stage there were hopes that the old tracks could be used as part of a light rail network linking the Waterfront with the railway station and Cardinal Park – but eventually the cost of such a scheme proved prohibitive.

But with the government hoping to get more heavy lorries off the nation’s roads, there will be hopes that more freight can be carried from the port by rail.

n Is enough being done to get freight moved from the roads to the rails? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1 AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk