Rail electrification hopes in East Anglia dashed in cost-cutting decision
PUBLISHED: 14:46 10 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:46 10 September 2017
Hopes of further electrification of rail lines in East Anglia appear to have been dashed by the government – although a new cross-country route between Ipswich and Oxford is set to go ahead.
Rail campaigners had hoped that cross-country routes from Felixstowe and Ipswich to Peterborough and Cambridge could eventually be electrified to make it easier to move people and freight without the need to go to London.
However the government has now announced that the new line from Cambridge to Oxford – which would link into this cross-country route – will not be electrified.
The government has confirmed that it will press ahead with building a new line from Cambridge to Bedford to replace a route closed in the wake of the Beeching Report – but that it will use diesel trains.
This decision follows a controversial government announcement that proposed electrification schemes in south Wales, the east Midlands and the Lake District had been abandoned because of cost.
Rail companies, including Greater Anglia, are now starting to use hybrid trains that can either run on electric power from overhead wires or from diesel generators.
Ipswich MP Sandy Martin said he was disappointed that the government was not going ahead with the electrification – although he accepted that particular route would not be a priority for him.
He said: “I would like to see all lines electrified because it is good for the environment and would be good for the country.
“I can see that electrifying tracks to large cities like Sheffield would be a greater priority and it is disappointing that these schemes have been cancelled.
“In this region the project I will really be lobbying for is to electrify the cross country line from Felixstowe to Nuneaton (through Ely and Peterborough) to improve the freight service from the ports here and get more lorries off our roads.”
Work is currently under way to electrify the Great Western Main Line from London to Bristol and Cardiff, but once that is completed in about 2020 there are no more electrification projects pending.
Electric trains are generally quicker and cheaper to operate than diesels but the overhead wire infrastructure is very expensive to install – and takes a long time to commission.