Rail engineers have worked over the festive period on the Felixstowe branch line as part of Network Rail’s £60m project to install a new 1.4km loop near Trimley which will enable increased freight traffic and improve reliability for passenger services.
As well as upgrading the signalling power system, three new track crossings, which enable trains to switch from one track to another, have been installed as part of the work to provide 1.4km of extra railway line between Trimley and Gun Lane, enabling the running of trains on the new railway in mid 2019.
The new track will support up to 10 additional freight trains in each direction per day, moving goods to and from the Port of Felixstowe. Passengers will also benefit from improved reliability for existing services between Felixstowe and Ipswich.
With each additional freight train taking the equivalent of up to 76 lorries off the roads, the upgrade works will help to reduce congestion and pollution for the local community and the wider region. The work also includes upgrades to four road level crossings between Trimley and Westerfield which will improve public safety while allowing more trains to run on the line.
Across the country, a 25,000-strong workforce are working more than 380,000 hours to keep the railway open and deliver 330 projects.
The work is being completed at the quietest time for rail travel on the country’s railway with around half the normal number of passengers travelling compared to the 4.7 million who typically use the network daily.
Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “We have used the quieter Christmas period to progress this new section of track which will improve the strategic freight network as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan. This work is essential to increase the number of freight services using the railway while also improving reliability for passengers.”
Further works are taking place across the region’s rail network until Wednesday 2nd January, including installing a new overhead wiring system at Forest Gate on the line from London to Norwich to improve reliability and reduce delays and cancellations. Passengers are advised to check before they travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk.