New Hourly Service on the East Suffolk Line

Monday, 10 December 2012

Abellio train operator Greater Anglia today introduced a new hourly service between Ipswich and Lowestoft after work to install a passing loop was completed at Beccles.

The £4m scheme, jointly funded by Network Rail and Suffolk County Council, has brought a previously disused platform at Beccles station back into use. Track and signalling works have also been carried out, as part of a wider £21m project to re-signal the East Suffolk Line, to improve reliability and performance.

The more frequent service will make train travel much more convenient and attractive for travellers to and from East Suffolk and a real alternative to the A12 throughout the day. Evidence from improvements to other local routes in the region demonstrates that an hourly service encourages many more people to choose rail. Before this major upgrade, train services between Ipswich and Lowestoft ran every two hours. There was a single track between Halesworth and Oulton Broad, meaning that trains could not pass each other for more than 16 miles.

The timetable change represents the most significant improvement to East Suffolk line services for many years and as well as providing better and more frequent services for local people, the additional trains increase the choices for passengers travelling between London and key destinations in North Suffolk such as Halesworth, Beccles and Lowestoft.

Steve Knight, Network Rail general manager, said: “This upgrade will make a real difference to people living in the area and will help to boost the local economy, with a more frequent service for those travelling for leisure or business. The new hourly service between Ipswich and Lowestoft will give a boost to towns on the line and provide a better connection to mainline services."

Councillor Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for roads and transport, said: “Suffolk County Council is very pleased to have worked with Network Rail to bring about this significant investment in the train service between Lowestoft and Ipswich – Suffolk’s two largest towns. The council is looking forward to working with Network Rail to bring about even better services for the people of Suffolk. There has already been an exchange of ideas on how improvements could be brought about without the necessity of spending huge amounts of capital.”

Ruud Haket, managing director, Greater Anglia said: "The introduction of the new hourly service on the East Suffolk line will help in providing a boost to tourism and the local economy, improving the travel opportunities for rail passengers in Suffolk. We have worked very closely with Network Rail, Suffolk County Council and other partners in developing the improved services for the benefit of the local community."

Greater Anglia and Network Rail are committed to working with Suffolk County Council to look at the options for reducing journey times on the East Suffolk line between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

All aspects of the line's operation will be looked at including line speeds, level crossings and the trains utilised to ensure that any proposals or developments are consistent with the approach outlined in the East Anglian Rail Prospectus launched earlier this year.