Network Rail proposes transformation of East Anglian services with London trains reaching Ipswich in an hour by 2024

Passenger growth is expected to continue over the next 10 years.

Passenger growth is expected to continue over the next 10 years. - Credit: Archant

Details of a multi-million pound programme to transform the region’s railways and speed up services from London have today been published by Network Rail.

The Anglia Route Study looking at improvements to be introduced between 2019 and 2024 backs all the proposals put forward but the Great Eastern Rail Campaign which were put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne earlier this week.

Many of the improvements needed to improve line speeds and allow trains to run from London to Ipswich in 60 minutes and Colchester in 40 minutes are already in the pipeline.

But the new study proposes further new investment in new track in Essex, near Witham, and at Haughley north of Stowmarket which would make services more reliable.

They would allow slow-running freight trains to be moved off the main line, allowing passenger services travelling at up to 110 miles an hour to pass.

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The proposals also include doubling the track on the Trowse swing bridge south of Norwich station and increasing track capacity on cross-country routes to take more freight off the main line to London.

Network Rail also wants to introduce double track on more of the Felixstowe branch line.

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Over the next five years line speeds should improve with the closure of several level crossings on the main line and improvements to the track.

This could allow some trains to run faster – but the full benefit will not be felt until the second phase of work is completed.

Network Rail is seeking public views on the proposals between now and February 3 next year. They will then be submitted to the Department for Transport and the Office of Rail Regulation for study over the next two years, and should be adopted later in the decade.

Figures show that the number of passengers from Suffolk heading to London is expected to rise by 32% over the next 10 years, and the number travelling from Essex is expected to rise by 52%.

Richard Schofield, Network Rail route managing director, said: “The lines out of Liverpool Street are already benefitting from a significant programme of investment over the next five years, but there is more we will need to do to keep up with the continuing growth in demand for rail travel.

“Over the last 20 years the industry has been able to massively increase the frequency of services, but we’re fast approaching the point where there simply isn’t any more space for more trains on the busiest parts of the network. We have to look at ways of increasing the capacity of our network further.”

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