Latest Rail News


DfT approves £60m upgrade to Felixstowe branch line

A scheme worth £60.4m to increase freight services and create a more reliable railway for passengers travelling between Ipswich and Felixstowe has been approved by the transport secretary.

The work on the Felixstowe branch line will see a second track installed between Trimley station and the Grimston Lane foot crossing.

It will mean that up to 47 freight trains can run per day, which is 14 more than can currently travel along the line. Each train can carry around 60 lorry loads, meaning the construction will lead to less congestion on busy roads like the A14.

Network Rail is delivering the project to ensure more goods are transported by rail in the UK, and in the next few months engineers will work to clear vegetation for the works.

“We’re improving the Felixstowe branch line to provide a step change for rail freight in Suffolk and beyond as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan. We’re supporting the growth of the UK economy by enabling more goods to be transported on the railway and reducing the number of lorries on the road,” said Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia.

“The work will also create a safer and more reliable railway for passengers travelling between Ipswich and Felixstowe.”

It is hoped that the project, which will be funded through the Strategic Freight Network, will also pave the way for potential improvements to the cross-country line.

Campaign for Better Transport have also conducted research into the route, finding that the work will benefit passengers and freight services on the line.

“These additional rail freight services can be filled almost immediately as shippers have been demanding additional rail services on the parallel rail route to the A14 corridor for years," said Philippa Edmunds, freight on rail manager at the organisation.

"Increasing long-distance consumer rail freight will reduce road congestion, road crashes 1 and pollution as well as making road freight more reliable.

"Research carried out earlier this year for Freight on Rail, sponsored by the Department for Transport (DfT), showed that the A14 corridor from Felixstowe had up to 6,500 of the largest HGVs, (5 & 6 axle articulated lorries) on the corridor each day which represented between 10 and 17 per cent of all traffic 2," she continued. 

"These additional rail services will remove another 840 large HGVs each day off the route which is the equivalent of around 3360 average cars. 3

“We urge the government to prioritize further work on this key corridor, as part of its industrial and emissions strategies, to improve productivity and reduce air and CO2 emissions.”

The countdown is on to get your entries in for this year’s UKRIA. Closing date is 9 October. ENTER NOW!


Andrew Gwilt   02/10/2017 at 17:30

What about the electrification to Port of Felixstowe for electric freight locomotives. Or use Class 88’s Bi-Mode freights to be used on certain freight duties to/from Felixstowe aswell Class 66’s, Class 68’s and Class 70’s locomotives that are used on freight movements.

Boris   02/10/2017 at 17:38

You really think more electrification is going to happen under the tories?

James Miller   02/10/2017 at 18:03

As someone who grew up in Felixstowe, this will be a boon to the town. A friend's brother was a crane driver in the docks and 25 KVAC overhead wires are not what you want in a port. Containers have been dropped. The scheme may also allow longer and/or heavier trains to and from Felixstowe, so perhaps some serious motive power will be needed. Recently, I photographed a Class 90 and a Class 66 double-heading a very long freight train at Shenfield Does this bi-mode power happen regularly? With the GOBlin being electrified, I suspect that we could be seeing a rather powerful new design of freight vlocomotive.

Andrew Gwilt   03/10/2017 at 03:09

Well Class 88’s could be ideal as they would operate on 25kv overhead as far as Ipswich and switch to diesel mode to carry on Felixstowe Port to pick up cargo containers then turn back to Ipswich to change from diesel to electric to carry on its freight duties to any port or factory. Which I think Class 88’s could be ideal as they are Bi-Mode “Hybrid” locomotives. Only suggesting.

Andrew Gwilt   03/10/2017 at 03:13

Plus Greater Anglia could of used some of the Class 88’s on London Liverpool Street-Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth services (via Ipswich) for few years before new Bi-Mode Stadler Flirt Class 755’s are built and delivered to operate on those routes aswell on other non-electrified local routes across the Anglia Region.

PP   03/10/2017 at 09:18

Andrew, the class 88 is not suitable for long-distance heavy haulage in diesel mode. The engine is only 950hp, so it's only suitable for light loads over short distances, or for shunting. It certainly couldn't provide enough traction power for a container train over any distance, or ETH supply for passenger coaches.

Huguenot   03/10/2017 at 09:22

This upgrade is not before time. In fact, it has been proposed for years. But no timescale is given in the article -- how long is it going to take? We do seem to do things at a snail's pace. Now we must move on to the rest of the F2N (Felixtowe to Nuneaton) route, including doubling of single-line sections, raising line speeds, increasing gauge, Ely North Junction and Syston-Leicester-Wigston improvements. Incidentally, freight can be electrically-hauled southwards from Ipswich (and some already is, but not enough); electrifying the Felixtowe Branch would not be good value for money. Better to decide to electrify to Swansea, Oxford and the MML north of Kettering after all.

SPT   03/10/2017 at 09:42

The saga of the gradual double tracking of the Felixstowe branch continues... £60m for 1.4 km of new railway line... which will be at full capacity when it opens..... You just have to laugh really..... at HM Government and NRs lack of ambition to get the job done properly, quickly and avoid extra costs by the stop start piecemeal approach...

King's Lynn   03/10/2017 at 11:41

According to another source: "The work will be completed in summer 2019"

Andrew Gwilt   03/10/2017 at 12:25

Maybe you folks are right. Me speculating once again as usual.

John B   03/10/2017 at 13:18

Yes, the Felixstowe branch needs to be upgraded especially with the East to North link to avoid freight trains having to reverse at Ipswich or go via London. Note for Andrew Gwilt: It should be "could have" or "could've", not "could of".

Lutz   03/10/2017 at 15:42

It is not clear in the article if all of this GBP 60 million is coming from the SFN Fund, or if part of it is coming from private sector. This has taken so long to get authorisation because there was a push to get at least part of funding from the operators.

John Grant   03/10/2017 at 17:44

Why is it being dualled at one end, rather than forming a passing place in the middle, say somewhere near Nacton?

Jerry Alderson   03/10/2017 at 21:41

Re: "It should be "could have" or "could've", not "could of". Indeed. Well done for trying to raise the quality of the English language used here. It's one of the things that "gets my goat" along with "try and" rather than "try to". Don't get me started on people who claim who "refute" something when they at merely rebutting it. I could rebut the suggestion that the world is round (OK, actually an elipsoid) but I couldn't refute it.

Jerry Alderson   03/10/2017 at 21:43

Typo: c/they at/they are/.

Andrew Gwilt   03/10/2017 at 22:17

Thank you @John B.

John Grant   04/10/2017 at 11:52

"Well done for trying", yes, though I suspect it'll be in vain. If only that were the only problem with AG's posts. I'd still like an answer to my question.

AJG89   05/10/2017 at 21:43

Doubling the tracks on the Felixstowe line has been planned for many years and it’s now finally happening. That will also reduce HGV’s that use the A14 to get to and from Felixstowe Port as its good for the Anglia region as more freight trains will be added onto the railways and less HGV’s on the roads in the East of England. Plus the government are also spending £millions on upgrading the A14 with a new stretch that will avoid Huntingdon once it’s completed in couple years time. Plus the A14 Trunk Road is a vital route that links the Port of Felixstowe to the Midlands and elsewhere in the UK. As I’ve heard on BBC Look East and ITV Anglia News. And on the local newspapers.

David   07/10/2017 at 14:46

£1.6 billion on the A14, to be precise. Absolute farce. I have to drive through those construction works every day.

John Grant   09/10/2017 at 11:31

@David: I'm old enough to remember the previous time that road was "improved", when it was converted from a 3-lane single carriageway to a 2+2 lane dual carriageway. The first thing they did was to close off the middle lane so you couldn't overtake; it was like that for about two years. That was also when they built the viaduct round Huntingdon, which is now falling apart and will be demolished as soon as the new road is open. Lorries to/from Felixstowe aren't the main reason the A14 upgrade is needed; that stretch is shared with the M11-A1(M) traffic (so should be as wide as the Newmarket bypass, which is shared with the A11) and it's the peak-time traffic to and from Cambridge that is the real killer.

Add your comment


Rail industry Focus

View all News


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

29/06/2020On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

Following an independent audit, Sulzer’s Nottingham Service Centre has been accepted as part of the rail industry supplier approval scheme (RISAS). The accreditation reinforces the high-quality standards that are maintained by Sulzer’s... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projects across the UK, Pearson Business School, part of... more >