New bridge across Felixstowe branch line to allow more freight trains
Network Rail has secured permission to build a new bridleway bridge across the Felixstowe branch line, replacing six pedestrian level crossings in the area. The crucial line is currently undergoing upgrade works to allow for more freight trains, but running more trains on the branch line also increases risk for users of level crossings, the British infrastructure manager said.
The upgrade works on the Felixstowe branch will allow up to ten additional freight trains per day 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.
The new bridge, to be built on the site of the existing Gun Lane level crossing, will provide an alternative safe route across the railway for walkers, horse riders and cyclists to access the countryside. This will allow for the permanent closure of six pedestrian level crossings in the area, including Gun Lane, to improve public safety. VolkerFitzpatrick will begin to build the new structure in the coming weeks and alternative footpaths and bridleways will also be provided to connect the new footbridge to the local network of paths.
Paul McMahon, Network Rail’s managing director for freight and national passenger operators, said: “This is really positive news for the freight industry and we can now focus on delivering this vital upgrade. This project is the next critical stage in unlocking further capacity for container traffic to travel from the Port of Felixstowe to the Midlands and beyond.”
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 earlier.
A 1.4-kilometre 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.