Rail bosses look at slowing trains on the route from London to Norwich and introducing trams between Ipswich and Felixstowe
Bosses at Network Rail have published a new study that raises the prospect of building a tram line through the centre of Ipswich – and of slowing down trains on the main line between London and East Anglia.
And while those campaigning to speed up the services have dismissed the proposals contained in the organisation’s “Improving Connectivity” document, the town’s Labour candidate in May’s general election has pointed out it has high-powered government backing.
The document looks at improving connections across the region and suggests that trains between Ipswich and Norwich should be slowed down by nine minutes to improve links at other stations and that trains on the main line should stop at more stations, increasing the time taken to travel from Colchester to London by four minutes.
The route from Norwich to London Kings Cross via Cambridge could be speeded up as an alternative to the current line through Ipswich.
This runs counter to the “Norwich in 90. Ipswich in 60” proposal of the Great Eastern Rail Taskforce, of which Network Rail is a member.
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The document also suggests that “Tram-trains” could be introduced on the line from Ipswich to Felixstowe, leaving the existing line on the edge of the town and travelling on tram tracks to the railway station.
“The Ipswich tram network was dismantled in 1926.
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The proposals are endorsed by Peter Wilkinson, managing director of passenger services at the Department for Transport Rail Executive.
He writes in the introduction: “I welcome this work and we at the DfT are first looking to bring this to life as part of our forthcoming East Anglia franchise.”
Ipswich Labour candidate David Ellesmere said: “This is a ludicrous scheme and would be extremely damaging for the town’s economy if implemented.
“It’s so bad it would be easy to dismiss out of hand but, worryingly, it appears to have the enthusiastic support of the Department for Transport.”
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer described some of the proposals as “potty” and insisted that Network Rail’s regional bosses remained committed to the rail campaign.
He said: “You have heard it from the prime minister, the chancellor or the exchequer and the secretary of state for transport – a Conservative-led government will deliver Norwich in Ninety in this next franchise period.”
Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP and co-chair of the Great Eastern Rail Taskforce said: “We welcome any ideas that aim to improve the region’s rail network.
“But we strongly believe there is no business or financial case for any of these ideas.
“We now have a genuine commitment from Government to all our key recommendations and we will be working hard with all those involved to ensure they are delivered on time and to our detailed specifications.”