A12 and A120 boost debated at crunch meeting over East Anglia’s travel links

Kevin Bentley at the Transport East Summit in Ipswich. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Kevin Bentley at the Transport East Summit in Ipswich. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Political and business leaders from across the region have met in Ipswich to discuss how to press East Anglia’s case for more transport investment – despite government attempts to focus infrastructure investment on the north of England.

The Transport East Summit at Portman Road heard from Paul Davey, head of corporate affairs at Hutchison Ports (UK) which runs the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich - who warned that under-investment in road and rail links from the region would hamper the whole UK economy.

He said that millions had been spent on upgrading the rail line from Felixstowe to Ipswich and on the "Bacon curve" allowing freight trains to take the cross-country route without reversing at Ipswich.

But without an upgrade to Ely North junction, the full potential of the improvements could not be achieved because the number of trains was seriously restricted: "This was supposed to have been completed between 2014 and 19 but now Network Rail is still trying to draw up its plans."

Felixstowe would always be the nearest port to the major deep-water ports in Holland, Belgium and Germany in the UK - so shipping companies would continue to want to use it because it was much easier for their vessels to visit rather than travelling much longer distances to ports elsewhere in the UK.

So from that point of view, it was vital that there were good road and rail links from the port to other parts of the UK.

The summit was chaired by the deputy leader of Essex County Council Kevin Bentley who said it was vital that the government invested in the road and rail links between the region, the midlands and the north.

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He said: "We understand the wish of the government to improve infrastructure in the north of England - but to reach its full potential the north also has to have easy access to our ports either by road or rail."

One route he is particularly anxious to see developed is the A120 from the A12 to Braintree to create an easier route from the region to Stansted Airport: "We hope to hear about this very soon from Highways England when they publish their RIS2 (Road Investment Strategy) document about which routes to improve over the next five years. If it is included then we would hope work could start in the near future."

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