Upgrades to the Ipswich-Felixstowe rail line, which will reportedly increase rail freight capacity out of the port by almost 30%, have been welcomed by the Campaign for Better Transport.

The upgrades, estimated at £58m, are expected to see trains running from the port increase from 33 a day to 45, according to The Ipswich Star.

Network Rail senior development manager Alex Kirk said the project was on schedule to be completed by December 2019, with work starting early next year.

Mr Kirk added that the improvements would provide a two-track system on parts of the Ipswich-Felixstowe link, which would help increase the number of freight trains for the port.

Freight on rail manager at the Campaign for Better Transport Philippa Edmunds said demand for increased rail capacity was already there.

“These freight services can be filled almost immediately, as shippers have been demanding additional services on the rail route to the A14 corridor for years,” she said. “Increasing long-distance consumer rail freight will reduce road congestion, road crashes and pollution as well as making road freight more reliable.”

According to the campaign, research conducted this year showed the A14 corridor from Felixstowe had up to 6,500 of the largest HGVs on it each day. This, it said, represented 10-17% of all traffic and the additional rail services would mean around 840 large HGVs would be removed from the route every day.

Ms Edmunds said: “We urge government to prioritise further work on this key corridor as part of its industrial and emissions strategies.”

While Suffolk Coastal District Council supports the plans, which it said were critical for continuing operations at the port, it has agreed to hold a public inquiry into the proposals after objections from horse riders, who fear their animals could be too scared to use a new rail bridge.

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