By Paul Geater
Monday, December 10, 2012
THE long-awaited Beccles loop has finally opened, allowing an hourly service to run between Suffolk’s two largest towns.
But on the day the new service was opened with VIPs on the first new train from Lowestoft, the fragility of the service was exposed as two level crossings broke down.
That meant the train had to stop before passing them at walking pace – ultimately that made the train 10 minutes late into Ipswich.
The new loop cost £4 million and was completed By Network Rail as part of the resignalling of the line thanks in part to a £1 million grant from Suffolk County Council.
County councillor with responsibility for transport Guy McGregor said he was delighted the new loop had been completed, but the opening should only be seen as the start.
“This is a great day – the first hourly service we have seen on the East Suffolk Line. But we need to now press for the line speed to be improved and for the number of level crossings to be reduced.”
He said the problems with the level crossings between Saxmundham and Wickham Market showed how the reliability of the line’s technology needed to be improved.
Mark Lawry from Network Rail said there was a review of the number of crossings on the line – the company would like to reduce the number as much as possible because they contributed to lowering the line speed.
The 46 miles from Lowestoft to Ipswich takes 90 minutes by train – that is a similar time to that taken to drive along the A12 but it is a long way from being a high speed train.
MPs Peter Aldous, Therese Coffey, and Dan Poulter joined the train for all or part of the journey.
Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Coffey said: “Oh, happy day! I remember when we got a reply from Philip Hammond (then Transport Secretary) giving the go ahead for the work two years ago.
“It is wonderful to see that it has now been completed – it will transform rail travel in the constituency.”