Plans to speed up the movement of rail freight from Felixstowe to the Midlands have taken another step forward after the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) accepted for examination proposals for the Ipswich chord – a 1km stretch of track linking the East Suffolk line and Great Eastern main line.
Earlier this week Network Rail chose Atkins and Balfour Beatty to build link in the scheme – a 1.4km chord at Nuneaton to allow freight trains to pass through the station without interfering with passenger services.
Currently most freight trains from Felixstowe to the north have to travel into London and up the West Coast main line.
This avoids having to turn around in the sidings adjacent to Ipswich station 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.
Network Rail reckons the £41m investment in the Ipswich chord could take 750,000 lorry journeys off the road every year.
The IPC was created to implement a streamlined process for deciding nationally significant infrastructure projects. It replaced the previous system which could force developers to apply for consents under as many as eight separate, yet overlapping regimes, for a single infrastructure project.
If the plans are approved, work on the scheme is due to start in 2012 and will be completed in early 2014.