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Network Rail plans to switch freight out of east London to make way for commuter trains

PUBLISHED: 00:01 15 January 2013

Freight trains could soon be diverted away from east London to make way for more commuter trains to ease rush-hour overcrowding, Network Rail has revealed.

The proposal means goods traffic that normally thunders through Stratford on the main line from Tilbury and Felixstowe being diverted across country to the Midlands and other parts of Britain.

It is part of a £2.2 billion investment programme covering the east of England, said to be the largest shake-up of the rail network since the Victorian pioneering days 150 years ago.

A strategic business plan for the Liverpool Street Greater Anglia network has been submitted to the Office of Rail Regulation, in response to the government last summer outlining what is needed on the railways by 2019.

Liverpool Street is already at full capacity. Morning rush-hour passenger numbers on the Great Eastern service are set to rise by half over the next two decades, from 16,500 to 24,600, while on the West Anglia service they will increase from 14,000 to 18,000.

Crossrail, due to open by 2018, will relieve some pressure—but only as far as Shenfield.

Rail bosses want to divert freight traffic to create more commuter capacity.

The cross-country Felixstowe-West Midlands line would be upgraded to take freight, to relieve the congested main line through Stratford junction.

The Barking-to-Gospel Oak line would be electrified to carry freight from Tilbury and the new London Gateway Port opening next year, avoiding Stratford and the congested Forest Gate Junction.

Network Rail’s Dave Ward said: “We will have renewed miles of overhead power lines and upgraded signalling and junctions by 2019 to pave the way for more commuter services.”

Rail bosses also plan to modernising Bow Junction and renew track from Stratford out to Norwich, while the new Crossrail stop at Liverpool Street will free up platforms for more commuter services during peak times.

A third track is also envisaged from Stratford to Tottenham Hale to cope with overcrowding on the Lea Valley line and speed up journeys from Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport.

A new operating centre is planned to open at Romford next year which will eventually control the entire Anglia rail network, gradually covering the whole of east London, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire by 2017.

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