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Network Rail halts Ely to Soham freight line plans

Network Rail has suspended plans for a second track between Ely and Soham because of spiralling costs.

The planned line was part of a wider programme to provide extra capacity for freight services in and out of the Port of Felixstowe.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Earlier this year, we held our first feasibility consultation with residents and other interest parties in the Ely area to try and better understand the impact of the proposal to install a second track between Ely and Soham.  

“Since then a lot of detailed work has been undertaken including surveys and ground investigation works. This work has identified that this project is far more complex than we anticipated meaning the funding required to deliver the project by 2019 is more that the budget available.  

“Owing to this, we have decided to put this project on hold until funding can be identified to deliver it. All the work we have done so far will inform any future scheme and we will keep people in the area informed.”

GB Railfreight managing director John Smith said: “While Network Rail’s decision to put the Ely to Soham scheme on hold is disappointing, what is now required is a clear understanding of what F2N (Felixstowe to Nuneaton) looks like when it is completed. This includes recognising the capacity it can offer and the individual investments needed to deliver such capacity, including that at Soham. These can then be planned and funded through CP6.

“With regards to CP5, double tracking of the Felixstowe branch line remains the best value for money of all schemes on the route and it’s vital that the Government completes the project in this Control Period. Double tracking will also ensure that benefits from other investments by Network Rail, such as the Nuneaton Chord and the Bacon Factory Curve, are fully exploited.”

Regarding capacity for the Port of Felixstowe, the Network Rail spokesman added: “We have constructed a new section of railway at Nuneaton (Nuneaton North Chord), a new 1.2km stretch of track at Ipswich (Ipswich Chord) as well as various other pieces of work to re-model, re-signal and upgrade sections of the route between Felixstowe and Nuneaton.  

“This has helped to remove bottlenecks, improve punctuality and performance, and provide increased passenger and freight capacity. Increasing freight capacity helps to take lorries from local roads, and support the UK economy by providing more opportunities to move goods around the country’s rail network.”

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