Monday 23 Jun 2003


Region & Route:
| Southern
Ipswich rail tunnel is to close for eight weeks next summer. The tunnel will be closed between 11 July 2004 and 05 September 2004 while alterations to enable higher freight containers, from the port of Felixstowe, to pass through the tunnel are carried out. The highest freight container that can pass through the tunnel on standard wagons at the moment is 8’6” high. However, there is a clear international trend to increase the size of freight containers to 9’6” high. Each year around 374,000 of the 1.7 million containers landing in the port of Felixstowe, the UK’s largest container port, are transported by rail to destinations in the West Midlands, North West, North East and Scotland. In 2002 around one in four containers landing in the port were 9’6” high, by 2010 it is anticipated that around a half of all the containers landing in the port (850,000) will be 9’6” high. Without alterations to Ipswich tunnel, rail freight business from the port of Felixstowe will gradually decline. The project to enhance the tunnel, funded by the Strategic Rail Authority and implemented by Network Rail, will bring significant environmental benefits. One freight train can carry the equivalent of up to 70 lorry loads and the alternative way to transport freight containers from the port of Felixstowe is by road, primarily via the A14. Tunnel-2 Chris Harvey, Project Sponsor, Strategic Rail Authority said: “This project is of vital importance to East Anglia’s rail freight industry. Without it, rail freight use will decline and could result in an extra 1,500 lorries a day on the roads.” Garry England, Project Manager, Network Rail said: “We realise there will be some disruption and we are working closely with industry partners and local authorities to ensure that inconvenience to rail passengers, freight customers and local residents is minimised.” Network Rail will be taking full advantage of this eight-week closure to carry out additional railway maintenance and renewal work in the area, which will mean long-term benefits for rail passengers and freight customers. Replacement bus services and revised timetables are currently being developed and proposals will be publicised in late Autumn 2003.

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