Ipswich/Felixstowe: Pressure grows for dualling of port rail track

Ipswich Chord looking over one of the new bridges that was installed Ipswich Chord looking over one of the new bridges that was installed

Richard Cornwell richard.cornwell@archant.co.uk
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
9:47 AM

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey is stepping up the pressure for the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line to be upgraded to enable more cargo to go by train and cut the number of lorries on the A14.

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She wants the 12-mile line to join up with the new Ipswich Chord to give a faster and more efficient route for rail traffic to the Midlands.

The Port of Felixstowe is due to carry out a £50million dualling project by 2018 as part of its planning consent for its current and long-term expansion project.

It has been working for some time on the background to the project, negotiating with more than 80 landowners over compulsory purchase orders to acquire the land needed for the extra track.

The scheme will see four-and-a-half miles of the Ipswich-Felixstowe line – from Trimley station to Nacton – dualled by creating in effect a large passing loop to allow two of the longest trains to pass side by side.

Dr Coffey said: “Felixstowe to Nuneaton is an important freight rail line and I know the government has already recognised that.

“The new Ipswich Chord will in the future allow considerably more freight trains to be able to run smoothly through to Nuneaton and up to the Midlands.

“It is the Felixstowe to Ipswich line itself though that continues to 
generate significantly more problems.”

She was concerned at creating what would be a huge loop and felt proper dualling of the whole line from Felixstowe to Ipswich would be the best option.

She said: “I recognise that dualling is quite an expensive investment but I still think we should have the line dualled which will make a significant improvement to resilience of freight coming out of the port and improve the service for passengers.

“The dualling of the line would be the gold standard while a set of 
passing loops would be silver or bronze solution. With the continuing growth of Felixstowe we need that dualling of the line.”

Port officials said the dualling proposed was needed to generate extra capacity but ithe Ipswich Chord and the introduction of 30-wagon trains, plus extra services and its new third rail terminal, have already increased capacity considerably.

Clemence Cheng, Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited’s chief executive officer, revealed this week that rail volumes at the Port of Felixstowe reached record levels last year when 830,000 standard-sized containers were handled at the port’s rail terminals.

He said: “Our new terminal, and the Ipswich Chord, will allow a greater number of 30-wagon trains to operate from the port providing greater choice and lower carbon emissions for our customers.”

10 comments

  • Not sure about the viability but wouldn't a dual track link from Trimley to Martlesham be a better long term solution rather than pushing more rail traffic through Ipswich?

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    amsterdam81

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Three thoughts on this. 1. I agree that this is a no-brainer - and, unlike adding tracks to the London main line, eminently do-able (except for the Spring Road viaduct section). 2. No, don't remove the passenger trains, as by doing that you remove the connections to other services at Ipswich. Buses are not the answer. 3. I note that the article talks of the loops which will "allow two of the longest trains to pass side by side", I was wondering what other ways they could pass each other (end to end?) - please watch what you write!

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    Baptist Trainfan

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Perhaps the solution is to axe passenger trains to Felixstowe altogether? have a reliable bus service - then you don't need to worry about 'dualling' the track in the short term. Have the occasional seasonal passenger trains serving the route but nothing more.

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    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Well said Therese. The port need to kept under the spotlight to keep to their obligations. It would be madness to axe the passenger trains - a vital, well used link to London and station south and north of Ipswich.

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    paul

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • This is a good idea and should have been carried out before the chord. £59 million spent on the chord and the largest user of the line Freightliner are not going to use it as crews change at Ipswich.

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    royg

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Again a well intentioned local MP has got her wires are crossed and confused the local press. The extended 4 mile loop is helpful, but the Felixstowe branch needs upgrading to double track throughout. or at least from Trimley to Derby Road and a major upgrade to Westerfield Junction, itself a bottleneck. Once it joins the East Suffolk line, trains can either proceed into Ipswich yard, or use the new Chord. What is therefore needed URGENTLY is double track and electrification, and wiring the cross-Anglia route from Haughley Junction to Ely, on to Peterborough, and then across the Midlands to Leicester Nuneaton and Birmingham.

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    Ric Pou

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • Why are we still getting the false propaganda that a dualled track would take freight off the roads? This myth was conclusively demolished by Planning Inspector Tipping at the Inquiry. The truth is that increased port throughput will inevitably put more lorries on the road network.

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    Grumpy Git

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • Another £50m on top of the £59m wasted on the chord which will be hardly used. That money could have paid for a far more effective solution called the northern bypass to help ease the road chaos in Ipswich, which these rail improvements will not help at all. I'm cheering for London Gateway to take away some of the traffic from our roads.

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    Esco Fiasco

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Surely this is, and always has been a no-brainer?? Long promised (like electrification) but never happened. Absolutely essential, particularly with London Gateway snapping at the heels of Felixstowe Port, for the freight services but also to allow the re-instatement of a reliable and comfortable passenger service.

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    Disbeliever

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Regarding the underuse of the new Freight Chord ... timetables take a long time to prepare and one change has "knock-on" effects elsewhere on the network. There are usually some changes made each May with major revamps taking place in December - let's hope for some rerouting then.

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    Baptist Trainfan

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

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