Thursday 28 Jul 2011


Region & Route:
| Eastern: Anglia
| Eastern

Network Rail’s plans for the Ipswich chord – a £41m investment in Ipswich’s railway that will ultimately take up to 750,000 lorry journeys off the road every year – has been accepted for examination by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC).

The company has consulted with the public and interested stakeholders over its plans to build a new 1km stretch of track, or ‘chord’ line, north of Ipswich goods yard, linking the East Suffolk line and Great Eastern main line on part of the site of the former Harris meat factory.

Today, most of Anglia’s freight trains that need to travel from the Port of Felixstowe to the north have to travel down the busy Great Eastern main line, through London and up the West Coast main line to save having to turn around in the sidings adjacent to Ipswich station in order to use the shorter cross-country Felixstowe to Nuneaton route. The Ipswich Chord will remove that bottleneck and free up capacity for both passenger and freight services.

Once this work and Network Rail’s other enhancements of the line from Felixstowe to Nuneaton via Ipswich, Ely and Peterborough are complete in 2014, the route will provide more direct journeys for freight trains travelling from the Port of Felixstowe to the Midlands, north-west and Scotland, and the potential for faster freight journeys to Yorkshire.

Now the IPC has given its validation, it has made all the application documents available on its web site, along with details of the examination process and how to get involved. The documents and further information are also available on the Network Rail website at

Andrew Munden, Network Rail route director for Anglia, said: "We thank everyone who has supported our project so far. We now look forward to getting on with this project that will take up to 750,000 lorry journeys off the road every year by 2030, reducing traffic congestion, improving road safety and reducing carbon emissions by around three-quarters.”

If the plans are approved, work on the scheme is due to start in 2012 and will be completed in early 2014.

Notes to editors

Improving the railway from Felixstowe to Nuneaton involves:

  • Gauge enhancements between Peterborough and Nuneaton to ensure the entire route can carry the larger, more economical freight containers increasingly preferred by global shipping firms. It also enables freight operators to use standard wagons which are more efficient and economical
  • Capacity enhancements between Ipswich and Peterborough: (i) a new 1km stretch of track, or chord, north of Ipswich goods yard, linking the East Suffolk and Great Eastern lines (ii) two 775m sections of track east of Ely station to enable better regulation of trains through the junctions at Ely iii) signalling works at Kennett / Bury St Edmunds
  • A flyover north of Nuneaton station that will allow freight trains from Peterborough to join the West Coast Main Line without the need to cross it at grade.


The Felixstowe to Nuneaton freight upgrade scheme will bring the following benefits:

Vehicles off the road
The Port of Felixstowe has increased rapidly in size over the past few years. When the Felixstowe South redevelopment is completed and the new Bathside Bay container terminal has been built at Harwich around 2020, these combined Haven Ports will have more than doubled their pre-2010 capacity.

This growth in freight from Haven Ports will have a major impact on transport in the area and it is estimated this scheme will enable the transfer of up to 750,000 lorry freight journeys a year by 2030 from Britain’s roads to the railway. This will help reduce carbon emissions and ease traffic congestion on the road network, particularly on the A14, where congestion is estimated to cost the region £80m each year.

Rail is also one of the most environmentally sustainable forms of transport. Rail freight produces 76% less carbon dioxide than road freight per tonne carried, so the greater transfer of freight from road to rail as a result of this scheme will significantly reduce carbon emissions and help the UK reduce its carbon footprint.

Rail can be a cheaper, quicker and a more practical way for businesses to transport their goods around the country and beyond.

Economic growth
The upgraded rail freight link will improve the competitiveness and encourage economic growth within the Anglia region and across Britain. This project will also make it easier to import and export goods, helping Britain compete more effectively in the global market.

The value of freight:

  • The British economy relies on rail freight to the tune of £870m a year
  • Rail transports over 100m tonnes of goods worth around £30bn every year
  • The freight sector supports employment 14 times the number employed directly in the industry (66.6k compared to 4.7k )
  • In total the UK freight sector contributes £299m in profits and wages to the UK economy
  • Rail freight generates £185k worth of output per employee almost double the national average (£89k)
  • The societal benefits from a shift from road to rail equate to £376m (2007/8) and up to £903m if it grows by 140% (2031). This would be a lot higher if the loss of Treasury revenue from road tax (due to taking lorries off the roads) was not taken into account
  • Rail freight demand is predicted to grow by 30% over the next decade and up to 140% over 30 years
  • Without the railway, the anticipated growth in freight traffic over the next 30 years would mean an extra 1.5 million lorry journeys on Britain’s roads each year
  • The Eddington Study estimated that the time lost as a result of road congestion costs the British economy £7-8bn every year and is likely to be at least £24bn by 2025
  • Freight also helps minimise road congestion – every freight train takes around 60 lorries off the road.

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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.

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