The Anonymous Widower

Are Greater Anglia Making Ipswich Station A Better Interchange?

Services In A Few Years

By the end of this decade, Greater Anglia will be running the following services through or from/to Ipswich station.

  • 3 trains per hour (tph) Norwich to London, taking sixty minutes to London – Platform 2
  • 3 tph London to Norwich, taking 30 minutes to Norwich – Platform 3
  • 1 tph Peterborough to Colchester – Platform 2
  • 1 tph Colchester to Peterborough – Platform 3
  • 1 tph Ipswich to/from Cambridge – Platform 4
  • 1 tph Ipswich to/from Felixstowe – Platform 0 or Platform 1
  • 1 tph Ipswich to/from Lowestoft – Platform 0 or Platform 1

I have assumed a new Platform 0 is built outside of Platform 1, is as I speculated in A Good Look At Platform 1 At Ipswich Station And The Work On The Far Side.

A Service Pattern

As each of these trains has fairly clear routes in and out of Ipswich station, could we see a sequence like this at the station, at a fixed time in every hour?

  • Trains from Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft arrive in their respective platforms.
  • London-Norwich and Norwich-London call at the station.
  • Trains leave for Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft.

As the Peterborough-Colchester service provides a second service between Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds, this would be scheduled thirty minutes after the Cambridge-Ipswich service.

Services To Nearby Towns

It is worth showing a table of frequencies to nearby towns.

  • Bury St. Edmunds – 2 tph
  • Cambridge – 1 tph
  • Colchester – 4 tph
  • Felixstowe – 1 tph
  • Lowestoft – 1 tph
  • Manningtree – 4 tph
  • Newmarket 1 tph
  • Norwich – 3 tph
  • Stowmarket – 5 tph
  • Woodbridge – 1 tph

There are also places, that lack a direct service from Ipswich, such as Cambridge North, Aldeburgh, Harwich, Sudbury and Yarmouth

Independently-Powered Trains

Services from Ipswich to stations that are not on the Great Eastern Main Line, will need to use independently-powered trains.

Greater Anglia will have three possible types of independently-powered trains.

  • The existing Class 170 trains, some of which may be retained.
  • The new bi-mode Flirts.
  • The new Aventras, which could be fitted with on-board energy storage.

All are modern trains, with at least a 100 mph capability.

Extra Services From Ipswich

Intriguingly, because the current one tph Ipswich-London service has been extended to Norwich, there is probably space to terminate another service from the South.

To the South, there are only two possibilities for extra services.

  • Harwich, which already has a very limited service from Ipswich.
  • Sudbury, which will be served from Colchester Town.

Neither is an obvious terminal for services, So I think it likely, that no Southern services would be added at Ipswich.

The only other possibility for extra services South from Ipswich, would be if it was decided to create a second route across East Anglia connecting Ipswich and Colchester to Cambridge and the East West Rail Link, via Sudbury and Haverhill, using the existing Gainsborough Line and a rebuilt Stour Valley Railway.

But if a Suffolk Circular Railway is ever built, it will be a long time coming.

Services along the Ipswich to Ely Line to Cambridge and Peterborough, will be as follows in a couple of years.

  • Bury St. Edmunds – 2 tph
  • Cambridge – 1 tph
  • Ely – 1 tph
  • Newmarket 1 tph
  • Peterborough – 1 tph
  • Stowmarket – 5 tph

It’s certainly better than it was, when I lived in the area, but there is a big new station at Cambridge North, that needs to be adequately served from Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich and Suffolk.

Passengers from Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich to Cambridge North will have a choice of three routes.

  • Take a Peterborough service and change at Ely.
  • Take a Cambridge service and change at Cambridge.
  • Take a Cambridge service and change at Cambridge to the Cambridge Guided Busway.

None is ideal and the last can get stuck in Cambridge’s legendary traffic jams.

Greater Anglia’s full plans have not been disclosed, but Wikipedia says this.

  • 5tph to Cambridge, with 2tph continuing to London King’s Cross; 1tph continuing to London Liverpool Street and 1tph continuing to Stansted Airport.
  • 4tph to Ely, with 1tph continuing to King’s Lynn, 1tph continuing to Birmingham New Street and 1tph continuing to Norwich.

So all stations to Birmingham get a direct service, but Suffolk doesn’t!


  • Norwich-Cambridge services will be extended to Stansted, releasing a bay Platform 5 at Cambridge station.
  • Trains can’t go between Cambridge North and Bury St. Edmunds will have to reverse at Ely station.
  • Kennett to Ely could be double-tracked to improve freight routes between Felixstowe and Peterborough.
  • Soham station could be reopened.
  • This Network Rail document talks of improving connections at Newmarket.
  • The East West Rail Link will connect to Cambridge at a proposed Cambridge South station.

I can see a package of work emerging, that would include.

  • Dualling from Kennett to Ely.
  • Provision for Soham station.
  • Improvements to Ely station and the various lines in the area.
  • Improvements to the junctions between Newmarket and Kennett.
  • Provision for connection to the East West Rail Link.

This would enable more capacity for freight trains.

It would also allow a second Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds service to Cambridge, via Kennett, Soham, Ely and Cambridge North stations.

  • There would be capacity in Platform 4 at Ipswich and Platform 5 at Cambridge for the service.
  • Between Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds there would be three tph.
  • The new station at Soham would have excellent connectivity.
  • Kennett station has excellent connectivity, is surrounded by space and is close to the A14 and A11. Could it be developed as a Parkway station?
  • A chord might be built at Ely to connect the lines to Cambridge and Kennett, which would avoid the reverse at Ely.
  • Greater Anglia will have trains for the route.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years, but services to Cambridge will call the tune.





November 29, 2016 - Posted by | Transport | , ,

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