Ipswich chord gets the green light

Published: 02:00PM Sep 17th, 2012

Network Rail's plans for better freight journeys from Felixstowe to the Midlands and the North are given a boost as the Government gives a new rail link at Ipswich the go-ahead.

Ipswich chord gets the green light

A new chord at Ipswich will avoid many freight services having to change ends in Ipswich yard. Gareth Bayer

The cross-country Felixstowe to Nuneaton rail route has received a major boost with the news that Secretary of State for Transport has approved Network Rail’s scheme to remove a major bottleneck near Ipswich.

The work will enable freight trains carrying containers used by global shipping companies to travel more directly from the Port of Felixstowe to the economic markets in West Midlands, north-west England and Scotland without having to travel through north London, which they currently do, making a valuable contribution to the economy.

Network Rail’s Ipswich Chord scheme will ultimately take up to 750,000 lorry journeys off the road every year – it involves the construction of a new one mile stretch of track, or ‘chord’ line, north of Ipswich goods yard, linking the East Suffolk line and Great Eastern main line.

Today, most of Anglia’s freight trains that need to travel from the Port of Felixstowe to the north have to travel down the busy Great Eastern main line, through London and up the West Coast main line to save having to turn around in the sidings north of Ipswich goods yard to use the shorter cross-country Felixstowe to Nuneaton route. The Ipswich Chord will remove that bottleneck and free up capacity for both passenger and freight services.

The Chord forms an important part of Network Rail’s strategic freight network, a programme of investment to improve freight capacity across Britain’s railway. It complements other work on the cross-country route, including the completion of gauge clearance of the route in 2011, and the ongoing construction of two loops at Ely and a flyover north of Nuneaton station.

Dave Ward, route managing director at Network Rail, said: “This is great news for the freight network in Britain. The work we’ll do at Ipswich Chord, together with the other enhancements along the route, is a key part of our plans to take more freight off roads and onto rail.

“This project will help to take up to 750,000 lorry journeys off the road every year by 2030, reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions as well as improving road safety.”

Preparatory work has already started, with major works to begin in autumn 2012. Work will be completed in early 2014.

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