The cross-country Felixstowe to Nuneaton rail route is set for further improvements as Network Rail begins work on building two 775m loops parallel to existing track east of Ely station. The work will enable better regulation of trains through the junctions at Ely and should be complete by summer 2013.
The Ely loops form an important part of Network Rail’s strategic freight network, a programme of investment to improve freight capacity across Britain’s railway. They complement other work on the cross-country route, including the completion of gauge clearance of the entire route in 2011, the ongoing construction of a flyover north of Nuneaton station, and the Ipswich Chord which is currently seeking planning approval.
Once all these upgrades are complete in early 2014, freight trains carrying the larger 9’6” or ‘high-cube’ containers increasingly used by global shipping companies will be able to travel more directly from the Port of Felixstowe to the economic markets in West Midlands, north-west England and Scotland without having to travel through north London, which they currently do, making a valuable contribution to the economy and helping Britain compete better in the global marketplace.
Tim Cook, senior sponsor at Network Rail, said: “The work we’re doing at Ely, together with the other enhancements along the route, is a key part of our plans to take more freight off roads and onto rail.
“This project will help to 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.”