Upgrade works Felixstowe branche to start in April
Important engineering works to upgrade UK’s Felixstowe branche are set to begin in the weekend of 7 April 2018, allowing up to ten additional freight trains per day in each direction to and from the Port of Felixstowe as soon as next year. The line will have a second track between Trimley station and Grimston Lane foot crossing, in addition to other upgrades.
A 1.4 kilometer track loop near Trimley Station will allow the line to operate more effectively, giving the flexibility needed to run more freight trains as well as improve the reliability of existing passenger services. With the new line, a total of 43 trains will be able to pass each day, the equivalent of up to 76 lorries on the road.
Increased capacity on the Felixstowe branche is a much-needed infrastructural upgrade, as currently many containers go to Felixstowe by road. “There is not enough track capacity for both the lightly-loaded passenger trains and the container trains, and so it’s the passenger trains that get the line capacity”, explained rail economics expert Professor Chris Nash. ““Here we have investment going on now to enable freight to expand, so it is not all gloomy.”
In addition to the track re-doubling, works will include the upgrade of several level crossings to make them safer and new bi-directional signalling infrastructure to support the demand for more freight trains. The works are carried out at a cost of 60.4 million British pound (52.7 million Euros).
Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “This is a significant upgrade to one of the most important freight routes in the country. This work will help us to meet the demand for freight to and from Felixstowe port, and at the same time, increase reliability for passenger services. The long term strategy to move more freight by rail is good for the UK economy and will lessen the traffic on busy roads like the A14.”
Clemence Cheng, managing director at Hutchison Ports Europe, also commented poinitng out that rail freight plays an essential role in distributing goods around the United Kingdom. Existing rail services from the Port of Felixstowe save over 100 million HGV miles per year from the roads, cutting carbon and easing congestion. We already have the widest range of rail services of any UK port with 66 freight train movements per day and there is strong demand for additional rail capacity. The works to improve the Branch Line will support sustainable UK economic growth and improve access to international markets for businesses across the country.