Monday 9 Aug 2004

IPSWICH TUNNEL: ON TARGET WITH 4 WEEKS TO GO

Region & Route:
South East
Anglia
Eastern
Southern
‘On schedule, work progressing well’ is the news for passengers and freight companies, as the project to lower the rail track in the Ipswich tunnel reaches its half-way point today. Mark Livock, Network Rail Project Director, said: “We are extremely pleased with the way the work has progressed.  Several key tasks have already been completed and we will be keeping up this momentum in the second half of the project.  We are confident that the project will remain on target for the tunnel and surrounding track to re-open on Monday 6 September 2004.” Once completed, the £5m Ipswich tunnel upgrade will form a key milestone in the project to upgrade the freight route between Felixstowe and the West Coast Main Line.  It will allow 9’6’’ freight containers to travel for the first time from Felixstowe to the Midlands, encouraging the growth of the freight market and reducing the amount of lorries on East Anglia’s already busy roads. During the eight-week tunnel closure up to 10,000 passengers a day have been successfully transported by bus between Ipswich and Manningtree for onward connections.  Network Rail and train operator ‘one’ have undertaken meticulous planning and careful monitoring to ensure the alternative arrangements are adequate for regular commuters and leisure travellers, with additional services laid on for holiday makers, football fans and concert goers travelling through Ipswich.  - more - Ipswich tunnel - 2 Clive Morris, Project Co-Ordinator for ‘one’, commented:  “With the tunnel project half-way through, it is pleasing to report that the alternative travel arrangements are working well.  Connections between the train service and the buses and coaches are reliable and feedback from passengers has been positive and supportive. We are very grateful for the understanding and co-operation of our passengers while the tunnel is closed and we very much look forward to the resumption of normal services from 6 September.”             The first half of the closure has involved a busy programme of work, with around 100 people a day working around-the-clock to get the project completed within the eight-week timescale.  Workers have so far removed more than 600 metres of track from the 330 metre tunnel, demolished and excavated the concrete base upon which the track sits, and replaced it with a new bed of concrete, 12 inches lower than before.  This critical alteration will allow the passage of 9’6’’ freight containers arriving from the Port of Felixstowe, to connect with the rest of the UK.             The remaining four weeks of the closure will allow the new concrete bed to be carefully levelled and set, then the new track installed.  Meanwhile, the £9 million programme of track renewals is continuing between Manningtree and Ipswich, which will improve the reliability of the busy route and provide a smoother ride for passengers.  To date, over 6.5 miles of track has been replaced, along with 18,360 sleepers and 43,000 tonnes of ballast.

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