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