Rail link dream revived

A TOWN council chairman hopes major works on a railway link to the Sizewell power stations could eventually help pave the way towards reviving passenger services to Leiston.

By Sarah Chambers

A TOWN council chairman hopes major works on a railway link to the Sizewell power stations could eventually help pave the way towards reviving passenger services to Leiston.

Network Rail has announced it is investing in the Sizewell branch line as part of its on-going maintenance and renewal programme for rebuilding Britain's railways.

During a 12-day, £30,000 scheme, 1,500 wooden sleepers will be renewed between Saxmundham and Sizewell using the latest railway technology.

Frank Huxley, chairman of Leiston town council, hoped the improvements would help passenger trains becoming a realistic possibility in the future.

"I'm delighted to hear they are doing the work, because it does re-open the possibility," he said.

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Although Mr Huxley felt the return of passenger trains to Leiston "may be a long way away", he thought such a service would bring benefits to the town.

"It does improve the transport link. We have now got a bus once an hour to Ipswich, but it would improve the link and give a fast link to Ipswich," said Mr Huxley.

The idea of a passenger train link was raised at a recent meeting on the new local plan and was put on a 'wish list', he said.

A possible site for a new Leiston train station was earmarked near the town's old gasworks since the old station has now been turned into housing.

The last passenger trains to the town stopped running in about 1967.

Railway buffs have used the line since, most recently around a couple of years ago, but regular passenger services have not operated.

Mr Huxley also hoped the improvements might also alleviate some of the concerns raised about the state of the line by anti-nuclear campaigners.

A spokeswoman for Network Rail confirmed that in practical terms, because freight trains were heavier, the lines would be able to take passenger trains.

"The track would be of the correct condition to allow passenger trains on there," she said.

The town council recently raised concerns about the condition of sleepers at town crossings.

Leiston town council clerk John Rayner said: "We are pleased to hear they are investing in the branch lines and we hope they pay particular attention to the crossings."

The sleeper renewal programme started on Monday, December 1, and will be completed by Friday 12 December.

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