Wednesday 25 Aug 2004
‘ALL ABOARD’ AS MINISTER TOURS IPSWICH TUNNEL OPERATION
- Region & Route:
- South East
Dr Kim Howells MP, Minister of State for Transport, and Chris Mole, MP for Ipswich, yesterday paid a visit to the ongoing work at Ipswich rail tunnel in the penultimate week of the eight week closure.
Dr Howells commented: “This is a tremendously impressive project. It’s an idea which first looked impossible, but they came up with an engineering solution. It’s a great achievement.”
The Minister caught the 09.15 ‘one’ train from Liverpool Street, arriving at Manningtree at 10.19. There he was joined by Chris Mole MP for a tour of the temporary car park and bus interchange, built by Network Rail to accommodate the large number of passengers travelling through the station during the closure.
Mr Mole took the opportunity to speak to baggage handlers and commented on the efficiency of the alternative travel operation: “While some disruption to passengers was inevitable, it is clear that the close working partnership between Network Rail and ‘one’ has paid dividends in minimising the effects of the closure and enabling people to get to their destinations.”
The next stop on the tour bus was a visit to Brantham Hall bridge to view the track renewals, planned to coincide with the tunnel closure, being undertaken by Network Rail. The £9 million project to renew 12 miles of track between Ipswich and Manningtree is now 85% complete, and due to conclude along with the tunnel work in just under two weeks’ time.
- more -
The final stop for the Minister’s party was Ipswich tunnel itself, where they were escorted through the tunnel by Mark Livock, Network Rail Project Director. Mr Livock described the stages of work that have been completed, including the removal of existing rails and concrete bed and the installation of a new concrete floor and new track at a level around 12 inches lower than before.
Mr Livock said: “We are delighted to report that the project remains on schedule, with the main bulk of work already complete. The new track inside the tunnel is now in place and secured, and has been re-connected to the railway on either side.
“The final tasks of installing and testing all the necessary track equipment will take place over the next week or so, followed by the final commissioning of overhead wires and signalling systems - all in good time for the tunnel to re-open for passengers on Monday 6 September.”
Dr Howells concluded: “This project is vital, not only for this region but for the whole of the UK. It will mean that we’re a country that can be competitive in handling international freight traffic by rail. With the only alternative being transport on already congested roads, that’s so very important.”
About Network Rail
We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Every day, there are more than 4.8 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.
Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk