New guide for historic line

ONE of Suffolk's best-loved rail routes is preparing to celebrate its 150th birthday with a new guide being published and the hope of improved services linking the east of the county with London.

ONE of Suffolk's best-loved rail routes is preparing to celebrate its 150th birthday with a new guide being published and the hope of improved services linking the east of the county with London.

But it's a birthday that seemed unlikely to happen 45 years ago when the East Suffolk Line was earmarked for closure under the notorious Beeching Axe.

A campaign was launched along the whole of the line which links Ipswich and Lowestoft through Woodbridge, Saxmundham, and other market towns in the north east of the county.

Eventually the threat of closure was lifted - and despite the line being reduced to “low-cost” status in the 1980s, it remains an important link today with regular through services to Liverpool Street and provides an important link between rural Suffolk and Ipswich.

A new guide produced by the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership gives details of tourist attractions and walks that are accessible from the route - and also has timetables of bus links and cycle hire outlets.

It is free, and as part of its launch partnership chairman John Brodribb was today handing out guides to travellers at Ipswich station.

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He was dressed up as a Victorian stationmaster - similar to Albert Perks in the much-loved movie The Railway Children.

He said: “The new guide is packed with useful information for a great-value day out with a car.”

The East Suffolk Line from Ipswich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft opened in 1859 and a year of celebrations are being planned for next year.

Mr Brodribb is also preparing a book detailing the history of the line which will be published to mark next year's anniversary.

Anyone with any memories of the line should contact him on 07909-780035.

The rail line opened in 1859, linking Ipswich with Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

The section from Beccles to Yarmouth closed in 1959 after the cost of maintaining bridges across the broads became too high.

The line's most famous train was The Easterling - an express train to and from London which split at Beccles with half going to Lowestoft and the rest to Norwich.

The line became a “test-bed” for radio controlled signalling in 1984 in an effort to cut operating costs.