Call made for Ipswich-Felixstowe trams

CALLS have been made to turn part of one of Suffolk's railway lines into a tram route, with extra stations and a service frequency of every 10 minutes.

Graham Dines

CALLS have been made to turn part of one of Suffolk's railway lines into a tram route, with extra stations and a service frequency of every 10 minutes.

The Ipswich Society wants “serious thought” given to its proposal of electrifying the branch line to Felixstowe and to increase dramatically the number of passenger trains from the current one an hour.

Currently, the only intermediate stations on the route are at Westerfield, Ipswich Derby Road, and Trimley, with a disused stop Orwell near Nacton village.

However the Society believes extra stops could be opened at Sproughton Road, Norwich Road, Warren Heath and at the two proposed housing development sites in Ipswich - St Clement's Hospital and the northern fringe.

Although most of the route is single track, the Port of Felixstowe is to finance the construction of a second parallel line between Warren Heath and Trimley, although that depends on the result of a public inquiry into the project.

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The port-sponsored improvements to the line are first and foremost aimed at increasing the number of freight trains on the route from Felixstowe to Nuneaton, which would remove the number of lorries using the A12 from London and the A14 from Warwickshire to Felixstowe.

Ipswich Society says its tram plans would reduce pressure on the roads as housing developments swell the number of commuters.

“Fast, rapidly accelerating tram-like vehicles would be used to provide brief stop times,” says Mike Cook the Society's planning expert.

“Electric trains would make a substantial difference to the quality of life for line-side residents by reducing noise pollution.

“Though such a scheme may appear fanciful now, it is an obvious solution for 20 years hence.”

Mr Cook said major infrastructure reform in Britain took up to 15 years to implement from the initial plan to completion including working up the proposals, getting the necessary finance and planning consents.

“It might seem fanciful, but we cannot continue putting more and more cars on our roads. We need an incentive to encourage people to use public transport and I believe this would be a positive contribution.”

Mr Cook added: “I appreciate the whole route cannot be doubled because of the Spring Road viaduct, and that freight trains play a major part of the line's usage. But if we reduce the amount of headway needed between trains, I believe the Ipswich to Felixstowe route can be upgraded to increase the number of passenger services, with trams playing a leading role.”

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