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Will you be taking a 30km diversion when this level crossing is closed?

PUBLISHED: 05:30 15 May 2019

Westerfield level crossing is being rebuilt. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Westerfield level crossing is being rebuilt. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Drivers heading north out of Ipswich into the Suffolk countryside are facing a double whammy of disruption this summer thanks to Network Rail.

The Westerfield Level Crossing on the B1077 is going to be closed for seven weeks from next Friday, May 24, while the rail infrastructure company installs new crossing equipment as part of the upgrade of the Felixstowe branch line.

This work comes at the same time as Network Rail is also carrying out work on the Tuddenham Road bridge, the next road along, which has temporary traffic lights installed until October.

The company has devised a 30km diversion for traffic heading to villages like Westerfield, Witnesham and Ashbocking taking drivers through Grundisburgh, Clopton and Otley - but officials at Suffolk County Council accept that most local drivers will ignore this.

A spokeswoman for the council said: "That diversion is the worst-case route that can be used by HGVs and anything on the road, we know that drivers with local knowledge will find other more reasonable diversions."

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That could lead to increases in traffic on many small lanes around Westerfield while the work is under way.

Network Rail said the level crossing had to be upgraded because the number of trains using it will increase significantly once work to install new track on part of the branch to Felixstowe is completed.

Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail's route managing director for Anglia, said: "We're focussed on reducing the impact for the people who live by the railway as much as possible.

"We have been talking with the communities affected to develop solutions to maintain vehicle access while these level crossings are closed.

"I want to thank everyone that has been involved in helping us to develop our plans to deliver these important upgrades which will improve safety for crossing users."

Network Rail said work to upgrade the level crossings can only be undertaken when trains are not running, usually at weekends, to maintain safety.

And there are major changes to train services over the bank holiday weekend with buses replacing trains on all services north of Ipswich - although trains to London should run as normal.

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