More passengers use East Suffolk Line following improvements
Record numbers of passengers travelled on Abellio Greater Anglia’s East Suffolk Line train services last year, with the line recording its highest ever number of passengers.
Over 653,000 passenger journeys were made in 2013 on the line which runs from Ipswich to Lowestoft – an increase of 11.5% compared to last year and double the number of passengers travelling on the line six years ago.
The passenger growth comes after Abellio Greater Anglia introduced a new hourly service on the line in December 2012, after work to install a passing loop was completed at Beccles.
The £4m scheme, jointly funded by Network Rail and Suffolk County Council, brought a previously disused platform at Beccles station back into use. Track and signalling works were also carried out, as part of a wider £21m project to re-signal the East Suffolk Line, to improve reliability and performance. Apart from the disruption caused by severe weather (including gales and flooding) towards the end of 2013, performance has improved with the efforts of both Abellio Greater Anglia and Network Rail combining to give a more consistent service.
The new era has also heralded a wider programme of customer-focused enhancements for this important route, with an extensive set of improvements delivered, often in partnership with stakeholders such as Suffolk County Council and the East Suffolk Community Rail Partnership. They include:
- New ticket vending machines to enable easy ticket purchase and collection at Beccles, Saxmundham and Woodbridge
- New bus links and through ticketing between Halesworth and Southwold
- Station re-painting at all stations along the line
- Enhanced interchange facilities at Lowestoft station, to make it easier for passengers arriving by bus, bicycle, car, taxi or on foot to travel to and from the station - through a joint project with Suffolk County Council
- Car park improvements at Melton and Wickham Market
- Introduction of print-at-home and mobile ticketing for a number of advance purchase tickets in use on the line
- A refurbishment programme for the two carriage Class 156 trains used on the line (six out of nine units completed)
- New carpets installed on the three carriage Class 170 trains used on the line
Looking forward, the company is continuing to work closely with Suffolk County Council, the East Suffolk Community Rail Partnership, the East Suffolk Travellers Association and Visit Suffolk to promote the line and encourage even more people to take the train.
Commenting on this exciting new phase for the East Suffolk line, Jonathan Denby, Head of Corporate Affairs said, "We're pleased to see that the new hourly service along the whole East Suffolk route has already been a great success. One year on and passenger numbers are up 11.5% year on year and over 60% on 2009/2010 - the last full year before the hourly service was introduced on the southern half of the route (Saxmundham - Ipswich). By working together with partners who share an interest in the success of the East Suffolk line, we are helping to create an exciting new phase in the history of the line with more services, better performance and better customer facilities. We're committed to making the Ipswich to Lowestoft route an even more successful route and an even more valuable asset to the communities it serves, supporting tourism and the local economy."
Local MP, Therese Coffey said: “I am delighted that the figures show such an increase in passengers. It is clear that a regular timetable with hourly trains has benefited residents, commuters and tourists alike. The service has also improved links to Ipswich and London for Suffolk Coastal businesses, giving a boost to the whole area.”