Two Suffolk rail schemes set for green light

TWO major rail projects in Suffolk look set to be given the green light after Network Rail heard details of its grant settlement from Chancellor George Osborne during this week's spending review.

The long-awaited Beccles loop – which will allow an hourly service to operate the length of the East Suffolk line between Ipswich and Lowestoft – and the Ipswich chord were set to have their funding approved.

The Ipswich chord will allow freight trains to and from Felixstowe to travel across country direct to the midlands and north of England.

Sources at Network Rail said they were unable to confirm totally that they would go ahead, but all the indications were that all rail projects had been approved apart from a few specific schemes that also involved new rolling stock.

Neither of the Suffolk schemes are dependent on new trains, and both are seen to have direct benefits for the local economy.

Cabinet minister Andrew Lansley said yesterday that the Government was keen to get freight off the A14 and on to the rail network.

'I cannot confirm that the work will be completed, but it would certainly help to ease capacity on the A14 which I know well,' he said.

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The Ipswich chord, which will cost �35million, is expected to be completed in 2014 and will allow freight trains for the midlands and north of England to be diverted away from the Great Eastern Main Line – freeing up extra capacity for passenger trains.

The �4m Beccles loop – with �1m coming from Suffolk County Council – should transform services on the East Suffolk line when it is completed as part of resignalling work in 2012.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: 'I'm not going to crack open the champagne just yet. I want to get final confirmation that it is going ahead.

'But I have heard the indications and it does sound as if we have some very good news for passengers and the whole of East Suffolk.'