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Blow to East of England's Roads as Rail Freight Improvements Deferred

December 13, 2015 10:22 PM
Originally published by East of England Liberal Democrats

A14 Traffic at PresentBoth the Midland Main Line and the East Coast Main Line cross the East of England Region. Both are used to move freight on rail and both suffer from capacity problems. Several critical rail freight enhancements are being deferred as part of the government's insistance that Network Rail delays its enhancement plans.

Cllr Nick Hollinghurst, Opposition Transport Spokesman on Hertfordshire County Council said, "Of course I welcome the confirmation that most of the rail freight schemes will continue. What I do regret, however, is that it is now clear the timescales for completing projects have been extended by up to five years."

Over the past 6 years several significant improvements have been made to the cross-country rail freight route from Felixstowe to Nuneaton, the most important of which has been the raising and widening of the loading gauge to enable the new larger sea containers to be carried. Two new lengths of track have been built at key junctions to eliminate bottlenecks and passing places have been extended to take the newer 700 metre trains.

It seems bizarre that, with the cross-country project nearly complete, the last piece of the jigsaw is to be delayed. This is the much needed upgrade to the Felixstowe Branch Line to and from the Port which would have increased capacity across the whole route. It would have taken a great deal of road container traffic off the A14."

The upgrade of the Felixstowe Branch Line has been deferred with physical work not now programmed to start until 2019.

Nick Hollinghurst said: "It's really crazy to delay completing the last piece of work. The rail route is at capacity and enabling just one extra train a day to and from the Port of Felixstowe could keep 30,000 lorries a year off the road".