The Anonymous Widower

Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?

I should declare an interest here of my teenage self, who spent some very boring summers in, what was then, the small coastal resort and dormitory town of Felixstowe.

There was only so many places you could cycle and as my school friends were all in London, I used to avoid going to Felixstowe if possible.

I can remember going from London to Felixstowe several times on the train.

I would cycle from our London house in Cockfosters to Liverpool Street station and put my bike in the guard’s van for the trip to Ipswich.

From Ipswich, I would ride the dozen or so miles along the A45 (now the A14) to Felixstowe.

I suspect, that I could have used, the two-car diesel shuttle from Ipswich to Felixstowe, but I never did.

Perhaps, it was because it was not the most frequent of services.

The frequency was certainly a lot less than the current hourly service.

A Tram-Train To Felixstowe

This report on the East West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the Eastern section of the East-West Rail Link.

This is said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe and street running through
Ipswich.

It is also said, that there will be a frequency of four trains per hour (tph)  between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

So how feasible is this proposal?

The Proposed Frequency

People travel between Ipswich and Felixstowe for several reasons.

  • It is an important dormitory town for Ipswich and increasingly for London,
  • The Port of Felixstowe is an important employer.
  • There is a large amount of leisure traffic between the two towns.

Currently, much of the travelling between Ipswich and Felixstowe is by car on an increasingly crowded A14.

Four tph seems an eminently sensible frequency.

Why Propose A Tram-Train?

If a train, like a Class 170 train or one of the new Class 755 trains were used for the route,  it would mean the following.

  • Four tph in the single platform at Felixstowe.
  • Four tph in a dedicated platform at Ipwich.
  • Four trains would be needed for the service.
  • An extra six tph using the route between Westerfield and Ipswich stations.

The stations should be able to cope, but I doubt that the extra trains could be fitted into a busy route with the following services.

  • Ipswich and Norwich
  • Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds, Cambridge and Peterborough
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft

If you add in the up to forty freight trains per day, that will use the route, something will have to give.

The Route Od The Tram-Train

It would appear that the plan is to replace the train, with a tram-train running on the streets of Ipswich.

This could be a possible route for street running.

  • Ipswich Station
  • Portman Road
  • Ipswich Town Centre
  • Ipswich Hospital

It would then join the Ipswich-Felixstowe rail line in the area of Derby Road station or the retail parks on the East of Ipswich.

This Google Map shows Derby Road station and Ipswich Hospital.

Note.

  1. Ipswich Hospital is in the top-right of the map.
  2. Derby Road station is at the left side of the map in the middle.
  3. The Ipswich-Felkixstowe Line can be seen going South-Easterly across the map to the well-known St. Augustine’s roundabout.

A tram-train would have the following benefits.

  • It would link the town centres of Ipswich and Felixstowe.
  • It would create a step-free link across Ipswich Town Centre to the all-important hospital.
  • Extra stations can be added where they are needed in Ipswich without decreasing capacity on the rail line.
  • It would surely encourage more people to use the trains from Ipswich station.

I suspect too, that Class 399 tram-trains could be used as they are in Sheffield and will be on the South Wales Metro.

Between Ipswich And Derby Road Stations

This extract is from the Wikipedia entry for the Felixstowe Branch Line.

The train now enters a section of double track through Derby Road station (6.10 miles (9.82 km) from Ipswich station by train, but only 1.5 miles on the map) where trains can pass.

It is very significant, that going through the houses between the two stations is a route that is shorter by eight-and-a-half miles.

Could it be that the time that would be saved by the shorter route is balanced by the slower progress of on-street running, which means that the current twenty-six minute journey time can be maintained?

Doubling Between Derby Road And Felixstowe

I’ll repeat what is said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe.

Doubling of about a mile of the Felixstowe Branch to the West of Trimley is ongoing and doubling further to the West looks to be fairly easy from my helicopter.

But there is one major problem.

This Google Map shows, where the rail line goes over the Ipswich by-pass.

Note that provision has been made for a second track.

So hopefully, it won’t be much more expensive to add a second bridge and track, than to add points either side of the existing bridge.

There would be some extra bridge works between the A14 and Derby Road station, but doubling all the way from Derby Road station to Felixstowe doesn’t look to be the world’s most difficult railway engineering.

Extra Tram-Train Stops Between Ipswich And Felixstowe

There used to be an extra stop at Orwell station. It was little-used and closed in 1959.

Looking at the station, it is now a large private residence and I suspect there is no point in reopening, as there isn’t much housing in the area.

But there could be a case for a station at Futura Park, which is shown in this Google Map.

Lots of the usual out-of-town stops are there including a Waitrose and a John Lewis.

The railway runs to the South of the A1156 Felixstowe Road and there is surely the possibility of a station in this area.

There is also the possibility, that the tram-train could join and leave the Felixstowe Branch Line at this point, after and before street running to Ipswich station.

Would The Tram-Trains Go Walkabout In Felixstowe?

Felixstowe used to have two other stations; Felixstowe Pier and Felixstowe Beach. Both are now closed.

  • I can remember Felxstowe Beach station, as occasionally in the 1950s, we stayed nearby at the Cavendish Hotel.
  • Felixstowe Pier station was towards Landguard Fort and even served steam vessels going to Germany.

Both stations were served by trains reversing at the main station, which is impossible now as the chord has been removed.

This Google Map shows the current rail lines in Felixstowe.

The line to/from Ipswich splits into two in the top-left corner of the map.

  • The branch going East goes to Felixstowe station.
  • The branch going South used to serve the two other Felixstowe stations and now serves the Port of Felixstowe.

The missing chord is visible to the West of the playing fields of Felixstowe International College.

I would rate reinstatement of the chord as highly unlikely.

  • The only reason, the chord would be reinstated, would be if the Port of Felixstowe wanted to have a four tph passenger service.
  • The Port wouldn’t want to have all those extra movements on what is a busy and exclusive freight line.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t rule out extension into Felixstowe Town Centre.

This Google Map shows the Town Centre.

Note.

  1. The one-platform station is at the top of the map, behind a small Co-op supermarket and the Listed station buildings, which are now a small shopping centre.
  2. The High Street, which is part -pedestrianised leads down from the station to the top of the cliffs, where Bent Hill leads down to the sea-front.
  3. Halfway along is a triangular garden, where a local road splits off toward the Southern part of the sea-front and the Port.
  4. The pattern of retail shopping is changing and Marks and Spencer in the town will be closing soon.

My plan would be as follows.

  • Rebuild the Co-op supermarket to allow a single-track tram line to squeeze through to the High Street.
  • Trams would then continue down the High Street to the triangular garden.
  • A second platform face could be added at Felixstowe station to allow trams to pass and give flexibility.

Done properly, it could improve Felixstowe’s appeal as a leisure destination.

I also think, that as the extension is only short, the current Ipswich to Felixstowe timing could be maintained.

Future Services At Ipswich Station

Listing all the services proposed at Ipswich station gives the following.

  • 3 tph – London Liverpool Street and Norwich – Greater Anglia
  • 1 tph – Colchester and Peterborough – Greater Anglia – Replaces current Ipswich and Peterborough service.
  • 1 tph – Manningtree and Oxford via Cambridge – East West Rail – Replaces current Ipswich and Cambridge service
  • 1 tph – Ipswich and Lowestoft – Greater Anglia – Some services extend to London
  • 4 tph – ipswich and Felixstowe – Greater Anglia – Proposed tram-train service.

If the Felixstowe tram-train service were to terminate outside the station, as trams tend to do, there would only be a need for one bay platform at Ipswich, that would handle hourly Lowestoft services, that didn’t go to/from London.

Ipswich station would become more of a through station with the following through trains.

  • Five tph going between Manningtree and Stowmarket
  • Two tph between Manningtree and the proposed A14 Parkway station via Bury St. Edmunds.

This would all save the expense of rebuilding large parts of Ipswich station.

Although, there would be a certain amount of remodelling of the station forecourt to accommodate the tram-trains.

Conclusion

It is a classic application of tram-train technology and I’m sure that a good route can be devised between the two towns.

 

 

February 22, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. […] I explore this more in Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?. […]

    Pingback by East West Rail Makes ‘Powerful Case’ For Direct Services From Ipswich And Norwich To Oxford « The Anonymous Widower | February 23, 2019


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.