Vital track upgrades coming up between Ipswich – Norwich in early autumn

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Network Rail will be replacing nine sets of 40-year-old points either side of Stowmarket station during the early autumn, helping to make this part of the main line fit for the future.

Points are movable sections of track that allow trains to move from one line to another, so they are crucial for the reliable running of the railway.

The old wooden sleepers under the points near Stowmarket are being replaced with modern, concrete sleepers. The rails will also be fully replaced, as well as the equipment that allows the points to move. Once installed, the new points will reduce the likelihood of faults that can cause delays and are expected to last for 50 years.

This is a high-speed section of the line where a lot of force and vibration is put through the points, so it is important that they are upgraded to the highest standards. These points are particularly critical because Stowmarket is where Network Rail stores many of its specialist trains that blast fallen leaves off the tracks in autumn. Any faults with the points could prevent these trains from getting out to treat tracks, potentially causing delays to passengers right across the region.

Engineers are also taking the opportunity to deliver other improvements at the same time as the Stowmarket project, including replacing worn-out rails at Needham Market.

Work will take place over the following weekends:

  • Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September
  • Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September
  • Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September
  • Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 September
  • Saturday 30 September and Sunday 1 October
  • Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 November

During these weekends, buses will replace trains between Ipswich and Norwich.

Buses will also replace trains between Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds on the Ipswich – Cambridge/Peterborough line.

On Sunday 1 October and Sunday 5 November only, the train service is scheduled to resume after 19:15hrs.

Full details and journey planners are available on greateranglia.co.uk or nationalrail.co.uk

Mark Walker, Network Rail Anglia route infrastructure engineer, said: “This is a major job that really needs doing to keep the railway running safely and reliably, not just between Ipswich and Norwich, but on the whole of the main line to London and on other routes too. We’re sorry for the disruption this will cause to passengers but it’s really important we swap these 40-year-old points for up-to-date equipment.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: “This work is extremely important to help maintain the safe and reliable running of the railway – we would like to thank customers for their patience and understanding while it is carried out.

“A rail replacement service will run while the work takes place and passengers are advised to check before they travel and allow more time for their journey.”

More weekend engineering work will be taking place on the London – Norwich main line later in the autumn and winter as work continues to build the new station at Beaulieu Park. Passengers should always check before they travel for the most up to date information.

Full size bicycles and e-scooters cannot be carried on rail replacement buses.

Image credit: Network Rail

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