East Suffolk trains return – but passengers face more cancellations
PUBLISHED: 16:45 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:45 17 February 2020
The East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Lowestoft has re-opened in its entirety after a two-week closure to replace signalling and crossings on the Wherry lines from the Suffolk resort to Norwich.
The line from Lowestoft to Norwich is closed for another week while some crossings and bridges are replaced but trains can now travel the full length of the East Suffolk Line - for the last two weeks services had started and finished at Beccles.
However the reopening was not totally smooth - two of the new regional trains failed meaning that services had to be cancelled. And there were no trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe for much of the day, they were replaced by buses.
The problems with the new trains has prompted Greater Anglia to put up a page on its website explaining why its new trains had reliability issues - and what the company and its suppliers were doing to ease the problems.
The line closure allowed engineers to replace old Victorian signalling on the routes from both Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth to Norwich. The traditional semaphore signals were some of the last left in the region and have been replaced by light signals controlled from Network Rail's signalling centre in Colchester.
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Ellie Burrows, Network Rail's route director for Anglia said: "I am really proud of everyone who has dedicated themselves to the upgrade of the Wherry lines despite the challenging weather conditions over the last two weekends.
"The completion of the re-signalling work is a significant milestone for the history of the Wherry lines and we are in a really good position to complete the track works at Hassingham and reintroduce train services on the Norwich to Lowestoft line on 24 February."
"A big thank you to all passengers for their continued patience while we complete this modernisation programme."
Scott Kelley, a Director at engineering consultancy Atkins, said: "This is a significant milestone in a pioneering project which will see the biggest deployment to date of a new, cutting edge signalling system that will help deliver a safe, efficient, reliable and future proof railway.
"Working closely with Network Rail and our supply chain partners, we look forward to completing the transformation of this important route which will serve communities right across Anglia."
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director said: "We're very pleased that the line has re-opened as scheduled so customers can once again use the train for their journeys. We appreciate customers' patience throughout these works.
"Together with Network Rail we are modernising the railway in this part of our region, with brand new trains and signals, which should improve reliability and punctuality for customers."