Posted 3rd March 2015 | 1 Comment

Community Rail boost for rural Suffolk lines

TWO more rural lines in eastern England have been officially designated Community Railways by the Department for Transport.

The lines link Ipswich with Lowestoft via Woodbridge and Beccles, and Ipswich with Felixstowe.

Rail minister Baroness Kramer said: "I am delighted to announce the designation of the East Suffolk Lines as a community rail service. It is a very practical way of helping local groups to develop innovative and more cost effective rail services for their communities, through working closely with the East Suffolk Lines CRP.

"It is important that smaller communities benefit from our huge rail investment programme, which will help build a stronger economy and a fairer society."

Abellio Greater Anglia runs services on the routes, and has recently doubled the frequency of services on the East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

AGA managing director Jamie Burles said: "We welcome the community rail designation of the East Suffolk Lines. Over the last few years, joint initiatives between Abellio Greater Anglia, Suffolk County Council and the East Suffolk Lines CRP have seen the introduction of an hourly service along the entire route. We’ve also delivered an ongoing programme of station improvements.

"The formal designation of the lines will help us maintain this positive momentum and deliver further improvements to services and stations to benefit the customers and communities it serves. We will continue to play our full part in the ongoing future development of this important regional route, starting with the introduction of 2 additional Sunday services from May this year."

Aaron Taffera, who chairs the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, added: "We’re very pleased that the East Suffolk Lines have gained community rail designation status. The East Suffolk Lines CRP has already played a valuable role in the development and promotion of this important route. Designation will provide more opportunities to build further partnerships, secure more funding for more projects and help the lines continue to thrive in the future.

To date, 19 lines with their services have been designated by the Department for Transport as Community Railways. A further 18 community rail services have also been designated, which share their routes with intercity or freight trains.

Reader Comments:

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  • Chris, Longstock

    After some of it's branches were closed, e.g. Aldeburgh, Bungay and the main route through to Gt Yarmouth (South Town), the East Suffolk Line was itself marked for closure in the early 1960's. The Lowestoft to Gt Yarmouth line closed in the 1970's; although busy, it seemed deliberately run down and now much of it is a new road. A story to tell there?

    Railway staff and organisations like ESTA campaigned and supported activities to keep it open. It survived perhaps due to nuclear fuel transport to Sizewell and cost cutting including losing its station staff. It was later singled, radio signalling installed and manned level crossings and remaining signal boxes abolished.

    Anglia Railways replaced the 1955 built DMU's with newer versions and restored a through service to London. National Express had several through London trains and latterly Network Rail and Abellio have introduced an hourly service (but no through trains), resulting with a doubling of passengers.

    The Felixstowe branch was kept open thanks to the port, now a victim of its own success as there are calls for doubling due to ever increasing freight. Fortunately many of the original structures were built for double track by foresighted engineers.

    Local schemes helped with tourist/leisure initiatives and there are buses now that connect with the trains, integrated transport we should have had years ago!

    The DoT announcement is great news, adding a further boost to a line that nearly closed 50 years ago. Hope there are other success stories across the UK.