New anger over rail tunnel closure
TELECOMS giant BT is calling for rail chiefs to install a temporary platform to minimise chaos caused by next year's planned closure of a rail tunnel.The company, based at Adastral Park in Martlesham, said it faced severe disruption when the Ipswich Rail Tunnel is closed because thousands of staff and visitors travelled by train to the site.
TELECOMS giant BT is calling for rail chiefs to install a temporary platform to minimise chaos caused by next year's planned closure of a rail tunnel.
The company, based at Adastral Park in Martlesham, said it faced severe disruption when the Ipswich Rail Tunnel is closed because thousands of staff and visitors travelled by train to the site.
The tunnel is set to close for eight weeks next year, from July 11 to September 5 while the track inside it is lowered.
The move is part of a £5 million project to allow larger freight containers to travel through the tunnel and ensure the region's container ports continue to be competitive. Railusers can expect an extra half-an-hour on their journey times.
As a contingency plan, train operators in the region are considering putting on coaches to ferry passengers between Ipswich and Manningtree, where they can get a train to London.
Stefan Largent, marketing and communications manager for BTexact Technologies, said the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) should consider installing a temporary platform on the other side of the tunnel to prevent disruption to business passengers.
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He said: "Certainly, it will have a dramatic effect on our staff and visitors getting to and from work. We are not very pleased at the way we haven't been individually consulted about the work. A coach from Manningtree to Ipswich is of little use to us.
"A temporary platform is something that should be considered. If it cannot be done, it should be publicised why it cannot be done."
Mr Largent said the coach service would create more problems than it would solve and said there were already parking problems at Manningtree and a temporary platform would make more sense.
A spokesman for the Strategic Rail Authority said creating such a platform was impossible because of technical issues and cost.
"With work beginning in the summer of 2004, we haven't got the time to complete the necessary signalling and overhead line extension alterations which are needed," he said.
"It is the second only single line available in the area in terms of track which would mean huge restriction on the capacity for train services using that route.
"There would be a knock on effect which would mean the service for passengers as a whole would be further disrupted.
"We are trying to balance getting it done quickly so disruption is as short term as possible with maintaining a reliable and frequent service as we can possibly do."
Anglia Railways spokeswoman Kerri Howard said nothing had been set in stone yet but added a coach service between Ipswich and Manningtree was likely.
"The plan that we have worked out will minimise disruption to passengers during the time the tunnel is closed," she said.
"At this stage it has been decided that this is the best way to get people down to London while work is carried out.