VolkerFitzpatrick and VolkerRail have successfully completed the first stage of upgrades on the Felixstowe branch line in Suffolk.
Over a five-day blockade and utilising VolkerRail’s Kirow 1200 crane, the team installed two new crossovers and a single turnout, commissioned and brought into service a new 650v signalling power system and upgraded part of the existing Solid State Interlocking (SSI) signalling in preparation for a switchover to a new Smartlock interlocking system.
The £60m investment is part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan and funded by the Strategic Freight Network and a contribution from Hutchinson Ports UK to deliver improved capacity for freight operators to the Port of Felixstowe, whilst improving reliability for passenger services from Ipswich to Felixstowe town.
The new 1.4km track loop on the branch line will increase capacity on the current single-track as the existing bi-directional nature constrains and limits the number of freight trains that can operate. When complete, the new track loop will support up to 10 additional trains in each direction per day, to move goods to and from the Port of Felixstowe. Each train has the potential to take the equivalent of up to 76 lorries off the road, helping to reduce congestion and pollution for the local community and the wider region.
Ben Porter, VolkerFitzpatrick project manager said: “The completion of these milestones is a huge step in the development of the Felixstowe branch line and the efforts made by all parties, to maintain the projects high safety standards and ensure everyone went home safe was exceptional.”