Monday 6 Sep 2004

- SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED - A TUNNEL FIT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Region & Route:
South East
Anglia
Eastern
Southern
Early this morning, Monday 6 September 2004, Ipswich rail tunnel re-opened to passenger services after an eight-week-long renovation, where engineers lowered the track to accommodate larger international freight containers.  Network Rail’s Project Director, Mark Livock, was at Ipswich station today to watch the early morning trains emerging from the tunnel.  He said: “I am absolutely delighted to be able to re-open the railway for passengers this morning, and would like to thank both passengers and the local community for their patience and support while this crucial work was carried out.  The project has been incredibly successful, delivering a 330 metre tunnel, lowered by a foot, in just eight weeks. “Two years of hard work and planning have gone into this project, which allowed us to prepare for any problems and deal with any challenges we faced within in the required timescale.  Key to the success of this project was the close working partnership between Network Rail, contractor Alfred McAlpine, their subcontractors, train operator ‘one’ and Freightliner, who made every effort to keep passengers on the move during the closure.” The £5 million project to lower the track in Ipswich tunnel is the final stage in the £40 million Felixstowe to Nuneaton (F2N) freight upgrade project, specified and funded by the Strategic Rail Authority.  For the first time, 9’6’’ freight containers will now be able to travel from the Port of Felixstowe to the North of England and Scotland via the West Coast Main Line.  This will enhance the competitiveness of the rail freight market, provide a boost to UK economy, and bring environmental benefits by reducing the number of lorries on East Anglia’s busy roads. - more - Ipswich Tunnel - 2 Jonathan Riley, Executive Director, Freight, Strategic Rail Authority, added: “The upgrade of Ipswich tunnel was vital to ensure the future of rail in the maritime container market, and its completion is a major development for the rail industry and for East Anglia.  Stakeholders within the rail industry and beyond it have worked effectively together to ensure the successful delivery of this project: on time and on budget."   During the eight-week tunnel closure, up to 10,000 passengers a day were successfully transported by bus between Ipswich and Manningtree.  A temporary bus interchange at Manningtree, built by Network Rail to facilitate the alternative travel arrangements, enabled a swift turnaround for passengers making connections between trains and buses.  20 baggage handlers were on standby 16 hours a day to help passengers ‘lighten the load’ – assisting with heavy bags, and often providing cheerful remarks to raise a smile! Clive Morris, Project Co-ordinator for train operator ‘one’ said: “I am very grateful for the support, patience and excellent co-operation we received from passengers throughout the tunnel closure period.  I would also like to pay tribute to all the staff and the tunnel project partners who helped in delivering the alternative transport arrangements.  We look forward to welcoming all our passengers back to our normal mainline timetable service.” The F2N project has also been supported by Transport Minister Kim Howells MP, who paid a visit to the tunnel on Tuesday 24 August 2004.  Dr Howells commented: “This is a tremendously impressive project.  It 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.” Network Rail took full advantage of the eight-week tunnel closure by spending £9 million to renew 12 miles of railway between Ipswich and Manningtree, as well as repairing Ancaster Road bridge and renewing Bentley level crossing.  This work forms part of Network Rail’s commitment to the rebuilding of Britain’s railway, and was successfully completed in time for the line to re-open this morning.  The brand new track will allow passengers to benefit from a smoother ride and more reliable railway.

Contact information

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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.

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