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Anglia rail upgrade gets green light

Posted: 23 November 2010 | | No comments yet

The crucial role that Anglia’s railway will play in the country’s economic recovery was confirmed today as the Department for Transport gave the green light for the Felixstowe to Nuneaton rail freight upgrade…

The crucial role that Anglia’s railway will play in the country’s economic recovery was confirmed today as the Department for Transport gave the green light for the Felixstowe to Nuneaton rail freight upgrade...

The crucial role that Anglia’s railway will play in the country’s economic recovery was confirmed today as the Department for Transport gave the green light for the Felixstowe to Nuneaton rail freight upgrade.

Rail freight at Port of Felixstowe

Rail freight at Port of Felixstowe

This follows the comprehensive spending review on 20 October, in which the government committed itself to encouraging more freight from the nation’s road network onto the railways.

Today, Anglia’s freight trains have to travel down the busy Great Eastern main line and through London to reach the north. Once Network Rail’s upgrade of the line from Felixstowe to Nuneaton via Ipswich, Ely and Peterborough is complete in 2014, the route will provide more direct journeys for freight trains travelling from the Port of Felixstowe to the midlands, north-west and Scotland, and the potential for faster freight journeys to Yorkshire.

Crucially, the project will help take around 750,000 lorries off Britain’s roads by 2030, reducing traffic congestion, improving road safety and reducing carbon emissions by around three-quarters.

Andrew Munden, Network Rail route director for Anglia, said: “Britain relies on rail freight and Anglia’s railways are playing a crucial role in the country’s economic recovery.

“More and more companies are switching to rail and reaping the economic and environmental benefits. As Britain climbs out of recession, Network Rail is boosting business by creating new opportunities for freight transported to and from major ports like Felixstowe.”

Cllr Tanya de Hoedt, transport portfolio holder at Ipswich Borough Council, added: “We are very pleased to hear the government has approved the upgrade of the Felixstowe-Nuneaton line, including the Ipswich Chord.

“The improvements will move significant numbers of lorries off the A14 greatly benefiting local people and by providing more direct routes for freight will also help to improve rail services in the area. We have been promoting this project for many years and are delighted to see it is now closer to becoming a reality.”

Improving the railway from Felixstowe to Nuneaton involves:

  • Gauge enhancements between Peterborough and Nuneaton to ensure the entire route can carry the larger, more economical freight containers increasingly preferred by global shipping firms
  • Capacity enhancements between Ipswich and Peterborough: (i) a new 1km stretch of track, or chord, north of Ipswich goods yard, linking the East Suffolk and Great Eastern lines (ii) two 775m sections of track east of Ely station to enable better regulation of trains through the junctions at Ely iii) signalling works at Kennett / Bury St Edmunds
  • A flyover north of Nuneaton station that will allow freight trains from Peterborough to join the West Coast Main Line without the need to cross it at grade.

Plans on schedule

Network Rail is developing its designs for the double-track Ipswich Chord and will continue its consultations with the public in early February next year. Should the scheme receive approval, work will start in 2012 and be complete by March 2014.

Faster, greener, safer

Between 1999 and 2008 the number of containers passing through Felixstowe – the largest container port in the UK – increased by 118% but the number of those containers transported by rail increased by 165%, demonstrating the growing market share of rail. Over the same period the number of trains serving the port daily has almost doubled.

With Felixstowe set to continue growing and the new Bathside Bay terminal at Harwich due for completion within the next decade, investment in rail freight – faster, greener and safer than road transport – has never been more crucial.

Network Rail’s plans will see an increasing share of freight traffic handled by the railways, reducing pressure on congested roads such as the A12 and A14.

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