We're improving the Felixstowe branch line as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan so more goods can be transported by rail, supporting the growth of the British economy and reducing lorries on the road.
Network Rail is investing £60.4m to transform the single track Felixstowe branch line by installing 1.4km track loop near Trimley station. The Port of Felixstowe is also helping fund the upgrade. This additional track 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.
The Felixstowe branch line serves the Port of Felixstowe, which is the largest container port in the UK. The work on the branch line in this area will support up to 10 additional trains per day in each direction to move goods to and from the Port of Felixstowe. 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.
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. We will also be constructing a new bridleways bridge at Gun Lane to maintain safe public access across the railway. This will allow us to close six pedestrian level crossings in the Trimley area to improve safety. Once complete, there will be a more reliable service, improving journeys for all passengers.
Travel information for passengers
Work began in April 2018 and will take place most weekends until autumn 2019. To allow a safe environment to undertake the work for our engineers, buses will replace trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe from 1850hrs Saturday evenings and all day Sunday when works are taking place. On Bank holidays, rail replacement bus services will be in place to allow passengers to complete their journey. Passengers wishing to travel during weekends are advised to check before they travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk or www.greateranglia.co.uk.
Authorisation to construct the additional track was secured by the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company in 2008 (by way of the Felixstowe Branch Line and Ipswich Yard Improvement Order 2008 and the Felixstowe Branch Line (Land Acquisition) Order 2014). These powers have now been formally transferred to Network Rail by the Secretary of State for Transport and the Port of Felixstowe (September 2017).
Find out more information about rail freight
Find out why rail is vital to economic growth
Level Crossing Upgrades – Thorpe Lane, Morston Hall, Levington, Westerfield
The level crossings at Morston Hall, Thorpe Lane, Levington and Westerfield will be temporarily closed while the work to upgrade them to full barriers, three with obstacle detection systems and one with CCTV. These modern level crossings provide additional safety for everyone wishing to cross the railway, either as a motorist or a pedestrian. While we upgrade the level crossings, we will temporarily close each crossing between the following dates:
- Morston Hall closed from 4 May to 28 May 2019
- Thorpe Lane closed from 28 May to 17 June 2019
- Levington closed from 25 May to 1 July 2019
- Westerfield closed from 25 May to 15 July 2019
Work to upgrade the level crossings can only be undertaken when trains are not running, usually at weekends to maintain safety. This means that each level crossing will be closed for several weeks while the main upgrade work is completed over consecutive weekends.
The crossings will be taken out of service to remove the existing barriers and equipment. Over consecutive weekends when trains are suspended, each level crossing will then need to be upgraded, tested and brought back into service one by one. This is to ensure that the new equipment and signalling systems are performing as required and it is safe for the public to use.
When the crossings are closed, we’re planning to maintain access for residents and businesses where possible. The following diversions will be in place:
- A temporary single-track access road suitable for private vehicles will be made available and managed by traffic marshals between Thorpe Lane and Morston Hall to allow residents to use either crossing when the other is closed.
- A diversion route for Levington will be in place with traffic marshals managing traffic to continue to allow access to the Suffolk Yacht club and local farm land
- A vehicle diversion route will be in place for drivers travelling to/from Ipswich through Westerfield and a temporary pedestrian bridge will be installed to maintain access across the railway for residents.
Additionally, the level crossing at Trimely station will be closed for 36 hours over the late May bank holiday weekend from 00:01 on 25 May until 12:00 on 26 May 2019. Arrangements are being made to provide residents with alternative parking while the crossing is closed.
Felixstowe Branch Line Level Crossings Closure and Bridleway Bridge Construction
In addition to the powers to build the track we have also been granted the powers to build a new bridleway bridge across the railway at Gun Lane and close six pedestrian level crossings in the Trimley area. The new bridleway bridge will maintain safe public access across the railway for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. It has been designed with consideration to the environment including local ecology as well as landscape and visual amenity to:
- reduce the amount of land required
- reduce the ecological impact
- reduce visual impact
- reduce the time taken to construct
- make the bridge suitable and safe for users.
The powers to build the new bridleway bridge and close six level crossings were granted in August 2018.