Ipswich: Rail operator will not use the new £59 million rail line

Phil Smart at the new Ipswich chord Phil Smart at the new Ipswich chord

Thursday, March 27, 2014
9:14 AM

The new £59 million Ipswich Chord is due to be fully open for trains from next Monday – but the main freight operator running to Felixstowe will not use it for the foreseeable future.

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Freightliner runs 22 trains a day in each direction to the container port – but will continue to run into Ipswich where its crews change.

Ipswich councillor Phil Smart, who campaigned for the chord for years, said the revelation could be embarrassing for the company.

The majority of those use the main line to London before heading to the midlands or north of England. However it does run some trains cross-country via Ely and Peterborough.

However even these trains will continue to turn at Ipswich, because that is where Freightliner has its crew depot.

Mr Smart accepted that the chord was only one improvement that was needed on the route – but felt freight companies should show their support for major investment like this.

He said: “I would hope that highlighting this situation would embarrass the company to look again at the way they run their trains in the area and allow them to use the chord.

“I would like to see a more can-do attitude coming from Freightliner now that the chord is open for business.”

Only six trains a day run by rival operator GB Railfreight, four heading to Felixstowe and two heading out, will be using the chord when it is fully open on Monday.

A spokesman for Freightliner said the company would eventually be using the line, but it was not possible to put a timescale on when these operations would start.

He said: “Freightliner welcomes the opening of the new Ipswich chord, which in time will prove a valued addition to network rail infrastructure for the movement of freight through the region.

“The Ipswich chord is one element of a long term strategy to develop a new freight route from Felixstowe to the West Midlands and North West. This route continues to be developed by Network Rail as demand increases.

“At present Freightliner does change its train crew at Ipswich because of the time constraints involved in rail path access.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, who was part of the lobbying effort that resulted in the chord being built, remained confident it would be a major boost for the rail industry.

He said: “There are other rail operators, and I am sure that if Freightliner doesn’t want to use it there will be plenty of competitors out there who will be very pleased to come in and take the business.”

He said the freight company would eventually be forced to transfer all its freight heading to the north and midlands away from the main line to London – but at the moment it was in a negotiating stage.

Suffolk county council’s transport spokesman Graham Newman said Freightliner’s decision showed the need for more investment – especially electrification – in the cross-country route.

He said: “This is an important development. But it’s only 20 miles further to go via London, and that makes it much cheaper to use that route because operators can use electric locomotives.

“Hopefully more trains will use the chord over the next few years, but it is only part of the investment that is needed. We need to press for electrification of the cross-country route to be included in Network Rail’s next long-term plan.”

35 comments

  • A far more pressing need would have been double tracking and electrification down the Felixstowe branch (as the Dock Company have reneged on their long-standing promise to do it themselves). This would have increased capacity and had the spin off of a more reliable and better passenger train service also. Instead a vanity project that isn't that necessary of a chord has been produced, typical! And as for Master Gummer to say Users will use other Train Companies than Freightliner as they will be quicker and cheaper, he really is on another planet. Idiocy.

    Report this comment

    Disbeliever

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Er - why is this coming out now? Did no-one ask Freightliner before the project was ever started?

    Report this comment

    Baptist Trainfan

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • @yesjohn There are no facilities to change crews on the chord. That is irrelevant.

    Report this comment

    Esco Fiasco

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Network rail are refusing to let freight liner change crews on the chord. The blame lies solely with them!!

    Report this comment

    yesjohn

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • @Disbeliver I agree that the port owners should have been encouraged to contribute more to local infrastructure. The rail line from Ipswich is very limited with regard to where it can be doubled, the stretch from Westerfield through Derby Road being a good example. The lack of investment in roads has been shockingly lacking and may well turn out to be the big failing. The Orwell Bridge is a bottleneck that hasn't been addressed in any meaningful way. God forbid there is any long-term problem with the bridge, the shipping lines will flee en masse. It's already operating at 100% capacity and is an ageing concrete structure and there are absolutely no contingency plans in place. Look at londongateway.com and it's clear they are playing on this weakness. Still, at least with no northern bypass there are a few hundred happy NIMBYs in the villages around the north of Ipswich, good luck to the rest of us.

    Report this comment

    Esco Fiasco

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • So reading between the lines this was built with out talking to the rail operators first!! what a surprise

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    MARTYN GREGORY

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Why is everyone being so negative? At least it created a lot of work for our eastern european friends. It is got to be said that England does it best to support other EU countrys' economies so the money is not completely wasted!

    Report this comment

    Billy Knowbend

    Saturday, March 29, 2014

  • Network rail have refused them permission to change crews on the chord. The blame lies solely on their shoulders.

    Report this comment

    yesjohn

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Yet again the planners, the council and politicians are shown to be useless and incompetent. It appears this was pushed forward as a vanity project by certain elements, and the chord is barely going to be used. 59 million is about HALF the estimated cost of the far more important northern bypass, something that would have a hugely positive impact on the lives and businesses of tens of thousands of people in the region. Yet, instead, we have this white elephant. You really couldn't make this nonsense up.

    Report this comment

    Esco Fiasco

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • £59 million exactly what for..............it is not April 1st what a joke

    Report this comment

    Joseph Marshall

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • So !, as everyone can see, this is the result of the tories privatising the Railways !, hasn't it been a 'big' success ??

    Report this comment

    freedomf

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Hilarious, Ipswich does it again, another massive white elephant to go with Greyfriars, the Wine Rack, Carr St Precinct etc. A bit like the "new" bus station that one of the bus companies now refuses to use! Build us a Northern Bypass, you can guarantee that will get lots of use.. :)

    Report this comment

    mmm

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • So !, as everyone can see, this is the result of the tories privatising the Railways !, hasn't it been a 'big' success ??

    Report this comment

    freedomf

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Network rail have refused them permission to change crews on the chord. The blame lies solely on their shoulders.

    Report this comment

    yesjohn

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Network rail are refusing to let freight liner change crews on the chord. The blame lies solely with them!!

    Report this comment

    yesjohn

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Hmm, six trains a day for £59 million. Perhaps the money might have been better used on doubling the track between Derby Road and Felixstowe?

    Report this comment

    chivers49

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Network rail are refusing to let freight liner change crews on the chord. The blame lies solely with them!!

    Report this comment

    yesjohn

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Network rail have refused them permission to change crews on the chord. The blame lies solely on their shoulders.

    Report this comment

    yesjohn

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • I have been a critic of Ben the man ever since he was elected, he has no talent for the job he was given as a result of being the son of well you work it out (and britain is a fair society with blonkers like that getting to be your MP) It,s about time the tory party sacked this person, the only job he could try would be an ice cream saleman along felixstowe seafront and work up the slippery pole from there. He could fill the cones up with his large silver spoon he's used all his life.

    Report this comment

    a west

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • I have actually e-mailed the details of this story to Private Eye to see if they have any interest, this sort of waste of public money needs to be properly addressed.

    Report this comment

    Esco Fiasco

    Friday, March 28, 2014

  • Hilarious. Agree Amsterdam - So this 59 + the 21 from the can't travel Ipswich and you'd have had 80 million towards thats apparently not affordable and would've solved both issues! You cannot make it up.

    Report this comment

    Scott Brock

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • After a short run from Felixstowe's it shouldn't be necessary for a change of crew for the onward journey. If the starting finishing point of the journey is Felixstowe's then that is the appropriate place to base the staff. Yet another failed project that Newman has been involved in, since he was moved to transport having failed in education. Sounds like nobody bothered to identify the real client before starting the project but were happy to appoint anyone as client just so they could proceed. Proper management of this project would have stopped it before any money was wasted. Good job the present government isn't short of money.

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Friday, March 28, 2014

  • As other TOC's will start to offer fast train times containers will move to it and Freightliner will have to play catch-up.

    Report this comment

    zaax

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • You couldn't make it up. Seems like this wasn't a pressing need after all. This money would have gone a long way towards funding the unaffordable Northern Bypass for Ipswich which would definitely be used and is an urgent need. Now this money has been wasted at the insistence of local MPs they need to explain what they are doing to make sure it gets used and that the objective of improving services for passengers is met.

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Let's spend £59 million pounds on the new chord without waiting for Freightliner to put their infrastructure in place to use it and then try and embarrass them says Phil not so Smart. Yet again rushing into spending our money without proper consultation and agreements in place with the main user of the chord. This project smacks of arrogance and councils do it all the time, lets build something then try and force a business to use it. When will they realise that business is run by profit and time and they will do what they want. Freightliner will only start to use the chord when it suits them not when the council tell them.

    Report this comment

    royg

    Friday, March 28, 2014

  • “Hopefully more trains will use the chord over the next few years says Graham Newman. Thats £59 MILLION pounds worth of hope taxpayers. How can you spend that much money hoping operators will use it. I think there should be an inquiry into this as how can you spend so much and build this without all the train operators on board(excuse pun).

    Report this comment

    royg

    Friday, March 28, 2014

  • Network rail have refused them permission to change crews on the chord. The blame lies solely on their shoulders.

    Report this comment

    yesjohn

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Network rail have refused them permission to change crews on the chord. The blame lies solely on their shoulders.

    Report this comment

    yesjohn

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Dare one say that this wouldn't have happened if we still had a nationalised rail industry in which infrastructure and operations come under the same authority?

    Report this comment

    Baptist Trainfan

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Not so smart now, eh Phil? You'd have thought this fiasco would have wiped the silly grin off his face, but instead of doing the decent thing and admitting his mistake he's looking to shift the blame to Freightliner. It shows how little understanding our Lords and Masters have of the reality of business - private companies are free to decide how they will move goods around. Maybe someone should have asked them first.

    Report this comment

    PC Plod

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • @amsterdam81. Yes, you have to wonder. Education in the county is the worst in the country, and transport and traffic in and around Ipswich has recently turned out equally bad. What, or rather who, is the common denominator? Yep, Newman.

    Report this comment

    Esco Fiasco

    Saturday, March 29, 2014

  • As other TOC's will start to offer fast train times containers will move to it and Freightliner will have to play catch-up.

    Report this comment

    zaax

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Don't think so - they have to consult by law. If there are objections it has to be resolved. http:www.networkrail.co.ukbrowse%20documentsnetwork%20codenetwork%20code%20and%20incorporated%20documentscurrent%20network%20code%20document%20by%20partpart%20g%2001%2008%2010.pdf

    Report this comment

    Wanderer

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Network rail have refused them permission to change crews on the chord. The blame lies solely on their shoulders.

    Report this comment

    yesjohn

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • I hope this story makes the nationals. How embarrassing, a new line for a freight train to use, and now they won't use it because the crew has to change. Get that crew to the new chord and switch there. Diabolical behaviour

    Report this comment

    Lee Davies

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

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