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16.09.15

Network Rail halts Ely to Soham freight line plans

Network Rail has shelved plans to double a section of track between Ely and Soham until sufficient funding can be identified.

The plans are part of the Felixstowe and Nuneaton freight capacity enhancement scheme called F2N.

Designers and engineers have been carrying out a “feasibility study” and site surveys since April to determine the possibility of double the track, since this would require buying extra land and changing level crossings.

They have now determined that the project would cost more than the available budget.

Network Rail would need to submit a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) to the transport secretary in order to progress with the scheme, stating that they have sufficient funding. This will now be “put on hold” until this funding can be located.

GB Railfreight managing director, John Smith, said the decision is “disappointing” but sheds light on the need to understand what F2N will look like once it is completed.

He added: “This includes recognising the capacity it can offer and the individual investments needed to deliver such capacity, including that at Soham. These can then be planned and funded through CP6.

“With regards to CP5, double tracking of the Felixstowe branch line remains the best value for money of all schemes on the route and it’s vital that the government completes the project in this control period. Double tracking will also ensure that benefits from other investments by Network Rail, such as the Nuneaton Chord and the Bacon Factory Curve, are fully exploited.”

A Network Rail statement on the decision said the scheme was being considered as part of the DfT’s Investment Framework Fund.

“The scheme is now on hold while we identify the funding available for the scheme in order to submit our TWAO, and therefore the ongoing consultation with landowners, businesses and other impacted parties will recommence when a revised date for submission is established,” it added.

Comments

Simon   17/09/2015 at 10:37

This should be on the list of priorities for NR, Felixstowe is after all the busiest rail freight container terminal in the country and this is a vital link from Ely across to the GE line. The recent derailment outside of Felixstowe over the bank holiday weekend just goes to show that with a single track railway it is vulnerable to derailments and accidents happening which can cripple access to this vital port which the country relies on.

Nonsuchmike   09/02/2016 at 18:01

Philippa Edmunds, John Smith, and many more responsible, eloquent and persuasive mandarins are now being joined by grass roots opinion to actively and vigorously promote Railfreight as the first alternative to be considered in moving large and regular loads across the country, whether to and from ports or internally between centres of population in the UK. First there must be double tracking from Felixstowe towards Ipswich, which should be immediately followed, maybe even in tandem, with double tracking from Soham to Ely. In particular we are thinking of the north/south alleviation of road traffic by this method, but equally there has to be strategies in place for east/west & diagonally to boost exports via eastern & western ports - not just those along the south coast and the channel tunnel. With the publication of the extremely disappointing final trade figures for 2015 recently, we now clearly see that those in Government talked up the "improving" economy, when no such improvement really existed; Dover and other continental routes easily clogged up, when more imagination as well as less intransigence could easily have produced a more sustainable model based not on London as the sole economic prosperity driver.

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