Funded by the Strategic Freight Network, with a contribution from Hutchinson Ports UK (HP-UK), a £60.4 million investment to create a new 1.4km loop on the Felixstowe branch line in Suffolk was successfully brought into service on 29 May 2019, on time and on budget. It facilitates an increase from 33 to 47 freight train paths a day in each direction on this key artery, carrying the highest freight tonnage in the country and serving the largest container port in the UK.
With each train taking the equivalent of up to 76 lorries off the roads, the strategically important Felixstowe to Nuneaton Freight Corridor (F2N) has seen considerable investment in recent years. This has included gauge clearance for W10 ‘High Gauge’ containers and capacity improvement including the Ipswich Bacon Factory Chord (issue115, May 2014), Ely Freight loops, and Nuneaton north chord.
As built in 1875, the 12-mile branch was single track with a passing place at Orwell, roughly mid-way. In 1891, two more passing loops were added, at Derby Road and Trimley. The original loop at Orwell closed with the station in 1959, leaving an eight-mile single-track section. In 1999, the passing loop at Derby Road was extended to accommodate container trains and the whole line was resignalled and controlled from Colchester Power Signal Box (PSB).