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Suffolk: Hourly service continues to boost passenger numbers

PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:35 25 January 2014

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

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

© Archant 2012

Passenger numbers have continued to increase significantly on the East Suffolk Line, a year after an hourly service of trains was introduced between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

There are now twice as many people using trains on the line as there were before 2008 after an 11.5% increase over the last year.

Hourly services were introduced to the line for the first time in most people’s memory in December 2012 following the completion of the Beccles loop which allows trains to pass each other.

More than 653,000 passenger journeys were made in 2013 on the line after the completion of the £4m scheme, which was jointly funded by Network Rail and Suffolk County Council.

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.

Other improvements on the line include:

New ticket vending machines at Woodbridge, Saxmundham and Beccles.

New bus links and through ticketing between Halesworth and Southwold.

Car park improvements at Melton and Wickham Market.

A refurbishment programme for the trains used on the line

Greater Anglia’s Jonathan Denby 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 between Lowestoft and Saxmundham.

“We’re committed to making the Ipswich to Lowestoft route an even more successful route and an even more valuable asset.”

Suffolk Coastal 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.”

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