Network Rail is once again inviting people to have their say on plans for a £41m investment in Ipswich’s railway that will ultimately take up to 750,000 lorry journeys off the road every year.
A first public consultation took place in June 2010, where Network Rail outlined its plans to build a new 1km stretch of track – or chord – north of Ipswich goods yard, linking the East Suffolk line and Great Eastern main line on part of the site of the former Harris meat factory.
The chord will remove the need for freight trains travelling to and from the Port of Felixstowe to use the sidings next to Ipswich station as a turning point, eliminating a major bottleneck on the busy Great Eastern main line and freeing up capacity for both passenger and freight services.
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.
The June consultation was a success with 95% of people expressing support for the scheme, many indicating they would like to see the new chord double-tracked to provide additional capacity for further freight growth. This mirrored the views of local authorities with whom Network Rail consulted earlier in the year and, as a result, the scope of the project was increased to include the double-track chord.
Now that designs are more advanced, Network Rail is in a position to share these details with the public, particularly around construction methods and environmental information.
Andrew Munden, Network Rail route director for Anglia, said: “We encourage anyone who’s interested to find out more about this exciting project. Either in person, by post or online, you can have your say on our plans that will take up to 750,000 lorry journeys off the road every year by 2030, reducing traffic congestion, improving road safety and reducing carbon emissions by around three-quarters.”
An online questionnaire will be available from 31 January until 13 March by clicking ‘have your say’ on www.networkrail.co.uk/felixstowe-nuneaton. People can express their views in person on Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd February at a public exhibition inside Ipswich’s Corn Exchange where Network Rail will display the plans and find out what people think. Postage-paid questionnaires will be available at the exhibition so written comments can also be submitted.
Network Rail will submit its final plans mid-2011. If approved, work on the scheme is due to start in 2012 and will be completed by 2014.