East Suffolk: Dramatic rise in train use after opening of Beccles loop

Official opening of the newly extended track at Beccles Station enabling trains to pass and a new ho

Official opening of the newly extended track at Beccles Station enabling trains to pass and a new hourly service between Lowestoft and Ipswich. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Picture: Nick Butcher

The number of passengers using the East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Lowestoft has increased dramatically in the first six months since an hourly service started.

Passenger trains started running on the entire length of the line in December following the construction of the new £4million passing loop at Beccles.

Since then the number of passengers using the trains has increased by 12% during the first six months when compared with the same time in 2012.

During the first six months of 2012, 243,000 passengers used the route. This year the figure went up to 270,000 – and the busy summer season is still to come which is likely to push the numbers up even more.

Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs, said: “We’re pleased to see that the new hourly service along the whole East Suffolk route is already having a positive impact.

“Only six months on and passenger numbers are up 12% 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 to 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.

Most Read

“We’re committed to making the Ipswich to Lowestoft route an even greater success and an even more valuable asset to the communities it serves, supporting tourism and the local economy.”

As well as the extra trains, there are now automatic machines at Woodbridge, Saxmundham, and Beccles stations – and a new bus service linking Halesworth with Southwold.

Suffolk County Council put up £1m towards the £4m cost of the Beccles loop – the rest was included in Network Rail’s resignalling budget for the entire route.

Suffolk cabinet member with responsibility for transport, Graham Newman, said: “These figures are very good news. I used the service on Wednesday, and even at a quiet time there were several people travelling. It’s now become a realistic alternative to using the car – now we have to talk to Network Rail about changing some of the level crossings to increase the speed of trains and make it an even more attractive option compared with the roads.”