Could East Anglia’s rail route to the Midlands get major investment boost?

Network Rail wants to improve Haughley Junction to increase the number of trains it can handle this

Network Rail wants to improve Haughley Junction to increase the number of trains it can handle this picture is taken from the side of Station Road level crossing. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Bosses at Network Rail are hopeful of securing millions of pounds from the government to upgrade the route between Ipswich and Peterborough as part of a major freight line upgrade.

This could also mean a major boost in the number of cross-country passenger trains – ultimately creating three journeys an hour between Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds. At present there are three trains every two hours in each direction between the towns.

Network Rail’s Freight and National Passenger Operators’ department is seeking to continue upgrading the Felixstowe to Nuneaton (F2N) route to boost cross-country trains, especially freight services from Felixstowe to the Midlands and North of England.

It is preparing bids for government money to improve the Haughley junction, where the cross-country line meets the Great Eastern Main Line, to double the track between Soham and Ely, and to improve junctions to the north of Ely.

As well as increasing the number of freight trains able to use the route, it would also increase the number of passenger services.

At present there is one service an hour in each direction between Ipswich and Cambridge and one every two hours between Ipswich and Peterborough. However, the Peterborough service is due to become hourly once new trains have been introduced by Greater Anglia.

In the longer-term, when the new cross-country link between Cambridge and Oxford is introduced in the early 2030s, one train an hour is expected to continue through to Ipswich – giving a second service on that route.

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A spokeswoman for Network Rail said the money for the improvements had not yet been approved by the Department for Transport, but officials remained hopeful.

She said: “We are already investing in increasing the capacity of the Felixstowe line and these projects will help to boost the capacity of the rail lines to take more freight from Felixstowe. Every train can take 76 lorries off East Anglia’s roads.

“But improvements like Haughley Junction, and improving the tracks around Ely also help boost passenger services, making them faster and more reliable.”

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