Rail link from Ipswich to Cambridge set for boost as part of east-west route

The number of trains between Ipswich and Cambridge could double if the track was upgraded. Picture:

The number of trains between Ipswich and Cambridge could double if the track was upgraded. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA - Credit: Archant

Hopes of upgrading the rail line between Ipswich and Cambridge by the end of the decade have moved ahead – with the hope that some trains could run from Suffolk as far as Oxford.

Consultants Steer have been appointed by the East West Rail Consortium, which has membership from local authorities across the region to develop a business case for developing the eastern section of the route.

This will use existing lines running from Cambridge to Ipswich and Norwich – and would mean a major upgrade of the line to Suffolk by building a second track from Cambridge to Newmarket.

That was removed in the 1980s as a cost-cutting measure – but it could now be reinstated to allow trains to run every 30 minutes on the route. There is also the possibility that it could lead to the electrification of the line from Cambridge to Ipswich.

Ipswich councillor Phil Smart has been a member of the consortium since it was formed in the 1980s and said it was hoped to get the eastern section developed by the end of the decade when the “missing link” of the route between Cambridge and Bedford was due to be built.

MORE: Route chosen for East West Rail “missing link”

He said: “The meeting was told we are now looking at East West Rail being a zero carbon railway, which means it has to be electrified. We hope that work on the eastern section is completed by the time the mid section is finished.”

The plan is for there to be two trains an hour from both Ipswich and Norwich to Cambridge – with one from each starting point continuing on to Bedford, Milton Keynes and Oxford.

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Suffolk County Councillor Alexander Nicoll, chair of East West Rail Eastern Section Group, said: “Building a new railway connection would transform connectivity and journey times across our region and with the rest of the country.

“This would bring huge benefits to passengers and businesses, driving economic growth and creating opportunities for housing and new jobs. It will also go a long way to get people out of their cars, providing a greener more sustainable transport system.”

Mr Smart said it was hoped that as well as allowing new passenger journeys that the new line could also be used by freight trains from Felixstowe and Harwich which would take thousands of lorries off the A14.