The BBC are reporting that the Bacon Factory Curve or the Ipswich Chord to give it its official name, is now open. Here’s the summary.
A new £59m railway giving the Port of Felixstowe a direct link to the Midlands is opening to freight.
Until now freight trains have had to travel in to Ipswich and then out again, adding a hour to journeys.
Hopefully, this small piece of track will improve timekeeping of trains that pass through or by the junction.
As I first posted about this curve in February 2013, construction has been pretty fast.
Have the government and Network Rail decided that lots of small projects can improve the efficiency of the railway significantly?
There is an advert for the Cult Cafe in Ipswich in The Times today.
What is unusual about the advert is that it appears to have been paid for by Barclays.
So has your bank paid for you to have an advert in a national newspaper.
I have written to the cafe to see if they are making any difference to the gluten-free desert that is Ipswich.
The Bacon Factory Curve at Ipswich is progressing well.
I should be going back to the dentist in the Spring, so it will be interesting to see the progress as it is slated from completion next year.
On my trip to the dentist in Felixstowe yesterday, I changed trains at Ipswich. There was a wonderful example of the problems that the Bacon Factory Curve is designed to eliminate, as two freight trains going to and from London, passed through the station at the same time.
One thing that worries me, is that these trains were going through a busy station, where lots of people were waiting for trains like I was. Is this a good idea from a Health and Safety point of view?
Many of these trains, are routed by the North London and Gospel Oak to Barking lines to complete their journey.
When the curve is fully operational, they will go on a more direct route, via Stowmarket and Peterborough.
But will those who live on that line be complaining of very noisy Class 66 locomotives at all hours of the day and night?
Incidentally, as a lot less freight trains will be travelling to or from London, they should be able to use the direct line through Ipswich station, which is between the main lines used by passenger trains to stop at platforms 2 and 3. This will certainly make things less frightening and probably a lot safer.
Yesterday, I went to the football at Ipswich on a very cold evening.
As I needed to go to the dentist in Felixstowe at lunchtime, I went early. This meant that as the cost of my dentist in Felixstowe is so much lower than one in London, I effectively was able to buy a First Class ticket on the saving, thus avoiding the need to pay rush hour prices to get to the match.
The idea was then to come back to Ipswich and waste time by going to a museum, watching a film, exploring the shops and having a pizza in Pizza Express.
All I did was have the pizza and get very cold, as Ipswich shut down virtually completely around five, giving me nearly three hours to find something to do. Since, I worked in the town, all my friends there have either moved away or now live way out of the town.
The biggest disappointment was that the first showing in the cinema was 19:30, whereas in Cambridge today several films start at around four. I could have walked to the multiplex, but I wanted to go to the cinema in the Corn Exchange, where C and myself had so many happy memories.
Even Debenhams and Starbucks shut at six, whereas John Lewis in Cambridge and Norwich shut yesterday at seven.
No wonder the town centre was as dead as a doornail.
But then the crowd at the football was less than fifteen thousand, which is very low for Portman Road.
The game was a pretty good one and memorable for four rather odd goals.
Luke Hyam and Carlos Edwards seemed to stumble over the ball before they put it in the net and Jordan Rhodes, for Blackburn, got the best of the Ipswich keeper in a rush for the ball.
And then to seal the match, Frank Nouble, thundered in on the Blackburn keeper and stole the ball, before slotting it in the net. Mick McCarthy, summed it up as follows on the BBC report.
He is a handful and a frightening prospect when he is bearing down on you.
He certainly scared the goalkeeper. For a big man, Nouble’s pace is astounding.
At least the train was warm, going home, even if it wasn’t a Class 90 and Mark Three coaches.
My Google Alert for “New Bus for London” picked up this story from Ipswich in the local evening paper. Here’s the first paragraph.
People in Ipswich will have the chance to travel around the town on a new London bus this week.
I’ve looked up the free Ipswich shuttle bus, on which the New Bus for London is running and the details are here. Effectively, it runs around the town centre linking the various shopping areas and car parks.
It is an idea that many towns and cities could use. In fact I think Ipswich had such a route in the 1970s and Liverpool certainly did until the infamous 1960s bus strike.
If you are going to have such a free bus route, what better bus than a New Bus for London is there for the job. It’s very low emission, the access for the disabled and buggies is excellent and with three doors and an open platform, it loads and unloads quickly. If it’s free, you don’t even have to bother with a fare collection and a conductor, although it probably helps to have someone to organise the passengers in busy times.
There are some excellent photos here on David Warren’s Flickr Photostream.
I travel regularly on the Great Eastern Main Line to Ipswich and have used the line since the 1970s, when we lived just north of Ipswich.
In those years, there has been very little improvement in journey times, although the trains are newer and perhaps slightly more comfortable.
So I was interested to find this report on the Treasury’s web site. Here’s the first paragraph.
Plans for a new expert group charged with finding ways to speed up rail services to the East of England by as much as 25% have been set out by the Chancellor.
Personally, I will be pleased if the speed improvement to Norwich, is matched on my shorter journey to Ipswich.
At present Ipswich and Norwich take 67 and 110 minutes respectively on a typical train. If Norwich were to be reached in ninety minutes, then Ipswich should be a few minutes or so under the magic figure of one hour.
Given that these trains would probably interface to Crossrail at \Shenfield, Stratford and Liverpool Street, it should be possible to go from Ipswich to Heathrow in under a hundred minutes. The Norwich figure would be two hours ten minutes.
I would think that this could be one of those small improvements, that show a very high return on the money invested. At least the line is fully electrified and all of the major stations can accept long high-capacity trains.
The major problem of delays caused by freight trains going to and from Felixstowe is also being solved with the Bacon Factory Curve, so I’m hopeful that by the end of this decade, we’ll be seeing much reduced journey times to East Anglia.
Will we also be seeing more electrication in East Anglia, like Ely to Norwich and Ipswich to Peterborough? I doubt it, although the latter would really help with the movement of freight out of Felixstowe.
Yesterday, it was football at Ipswich at 19:45 due to SKY, so it was an early train to avoid the rush hour and a pre-match meal in Pizza Express on the waterfront.
PX is the only really coeliac-friendly restaurant in the town centre. I’ve yet to find a good Indian one, close to the football ground.
PX was heaving, so it does appear that the demand might be coming up in the town, which in my view and those of some of my friends is a restaurant graveyard. I always wondered if East Suffolk people go to bed early, ever since my father and I used to walk home from his club in Felixstowe at about 21:30 and see all the houses cmpletely dark.
But getting to and from the quay and PX in the dark is a walker’s nightmare, with uneven pavements and all sorts of barriers everywhere. How many drunks will tip into the dock?
However there did seem to be a lot of good development going on at the waterfront, but knowing Ipswich as I do, I doubt that it will be complete for upwards of five to ten years.
The quay might end up as a good place to go, but it’s not that close to the town centre, the railway station and the other attractions in the town, like Christchurch Mansion, the Wolsey Theatre and the football ground.
If ever a town was crying out for a free circular bus-route that ran around the town centre like Manchester’s Metroshuttle, it is Ipswich!
At least though the meal was good and walking down the hill to the restaurant from the station was easy, even if I didn’t find the quickest route back to the football ground in the dark. In the light, I’d have had the liths to guide me!
I shall go again in the light!
Manchester has a free city centre bus called the Metroshuttle.
We need more of these in city centres. The Manchester Transport Authority, TfGM, also provides other systems locally in Bolton, Stockport and Oldham. But I have only seen one other recently and that was in Huddersfield. I can remember buses of this type in Liverpool in the 1960s and later in Ipswich and Cambridge. Liverpool’s City Circle was probably a victim of the infamous bus strike of the 1960s and then it’s route was replaced by the underground railway. But Ipswich and Cambridge you either have to walk or find a bus that might go where you are going. Cambridge is particularly bad for the inexperienced visitor.
I travel to Ipswich regularly to see Ipswich Town play.
My last two tickets cost me £34.95 and that was made up by buying a Senior ticket from the Zone 6 boundary (Harold Wood) to Ipswich and then upgrading it to First.
Yesterday’s ticket was much simpler in that it was a Senior First Class ticket all the way and back for £32.60.
I’ve just looked it up the 19th of October, when Ipswich play Burnley and I can now buy one on-line for £32.60.
it also looks like that for a Tuesday night match, I can get an Off-Peak First Return to Ipswich for the same price, provided I leave before 16:30. I don’t remember that being possible before. i could of course be wrong. The only returns to Ipswich I can find in my credit card statements are £34.95.
It looks like the price has got down for me and I’ll now be able to avoid the queues at Liverpool Street station on a Saturday morning, by buying my ticket on-line. I’ll also have time for a proper lunch before I travel.
I’ve never found any fault with the staff on the trains to Ipswich, but today they seemed to have gone up a gear in cheeriness. The steward was also offering more than the usual single complimentary drink with your First Class ticket.
I have no complaints and let’s hope it all gets even better.
For instance, it is known that Herculean efforts are sometimes needed to keep the Class 90 locomotives on top form. As passengers generally like the smooth riding Mark 3 coaches, could a small injection of the new Class 88 locomotives, allow some Norwich services to be extended to Great Yarmouth, as they used to be in the past. Would they also enable proper trains to be run to Bury St. Edmunds and Lowestoft?