Station expansion good for travellers

MONEY is tight for Network Rail as well as everyone else at present, so I am not expecting to hear anything anytime soon about building new platforms at Ipswich station.

But in the medium to long-term the logic of building new platforms on the site of the current refuelling depot is inescapable.

And while they’re about it another bay next to platform one on the other side of the station for the increasing number of trains on the East Suffolk Line would also be very handy.

These new platforms would be of no use to trains heading to or from London but they would have a major impact on these services.

One of the issues facing travellers at Ipswich is that most of the cross country services go from platform four.

That is actually a through platform, but it is not available to most trains heading from London to Norwich because it is in use by other services, mainly by trains heading west to Bury and beyond.

If that platform was cleared of these trains, it would allow a great deal more flexibility and allow operators to run more commuter trains from London to Ipswich.

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Such a major change would not come cheap – and for that reason I’m not expecting to see extra platforms built at Ipswich for at least a decade or even longer.

But if the number of rail passengers continues to increase dramatically as it has done since the mid-1990s, it is certainly a proposal that could be followed up.

After all a few years ago the idea of building a new loop from the East Suffolk line to allow freight from Felixstowe to head straight to the midlands and north without reversing at Ipswich seemed pie in the sky.

Now work is due to start on that next year – and by 2014 it should be taking hundreds of thousands of containers off the A14.

If that loop can be built there is no reason why an expansion of Ipswich railway station should not be considered – and it would certainly tidy up what can sometimes look like a scruffy edge to the station.