East Suffolk Line
|East Suffolk Line|
East of England
|Rolling stock||Class 153 "Sprinter"
Class 156 "Sprinter"
Class 170 "Turbostar"
|Line length||49.03 mi (78.91 km)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The East Suffolk Line is an un-electrified secondary railway line running between Ipswich and Lowestoft in Suffolk, England. The traffic along the route consists of passenger services operated by Greater Anglia, while nuclear flask trains for the Sizewell nuclear power stations are operated by Direct Rail Services. It and the Wherry Line are the easternmost railway lines in Great Britain.
|East Suffolk Line|
In about 1847 the Ipswich & Bury Railway had secured the rights to build the line from Ipswich to Woodbridge but works were delayed for financial reasons. The Ipswich & Bury Railway was absorbed by then Eastern Union Railway in 1847.
The Halesworth, Beccles & Haddiscoe Railway was incorporated in 1851 and the first section of the East Suffolk line from Beccles to Halesworth was constructed by Peto Brassey & Betts. The East Suffolk railway, which had been incorporated on 3 July 1854, took over the powers of the Halesworth, Beccles & Haddiscoe Railway and the route opened on the 4 December 1854. It continued north to Haddiscoe on what is now part of the Wherry Lines.
The Eastern Union Railway was amagamated with other companies into the Great Eastern Railway in 1862.
The Beccles to Great Yarmouth section was closed in 1959, exactly one hundred years after it had been opened. The rest of the line was then threatened with complete closure as part of the Beeching Axe in the early 1960s however economies in the operation of the line ensured its future. The first economy was that all stations were destaffed in the late 1960s. The line was resignalled in 1984 using the Radio Electronic Token Block resulting in the closure of all signal boxes except the RETB controlling signalbox at Saxmumdham. Also, to ensure the line's survival, parts of the remaining line were reduced to single track to minimize maintenance costs.
Railtrack, Now known as Network Rail, became responsible for the infrastructure maintenance in 1994.
The operation of the line was privatised in 1997 when the franchise was awarded to Anglia Railways who operated it until April 2004 when National Express East Anglia won the replacement franchise operating under the brand name 'One' until February 2008.
"The government is set to tell the new franchise-holder that the hourly services on the Ipswich to Cambridge and Ipswich to Felixstowe lines will have to be retained - and there will have to be an hourly service on the East Suffolk line to Lowestoft once the Beccles loop is installed within the next few years."
In January 2010 it was announced that an hourly service would be introduced following the completion of the passing loop at Beccles (see below)
The line runs north from Ipswich via Woodbridge, Saxmundham, Halesworth, Beccles to Lowestoft and other intermediate stations. It connects with the following operational lines: Great Eastern Main Line, the Felixstowe Branch Line, Aldeburgh Branch Line (freight only) and the Wherry Lines.
The line is double-track from Ipswich to Woodbridge and from Saxmundham to Halesworth with the rest of the route being single track, apart from a short passing loop at Beccles. The line is not electrified, has a loading gauge of W10 between Ipswich and Westerfield and W6 for all other sections, and a line speed of between 40-55 mph.
Until October 2012, the section from Westerfield to Oulton Broad was signalled using Radio Electronic Token Block controlled from Saxmundham, and was the only line in England to use this system (the system was used elsewhere in the UK in both Wales and Scotland). However, due to radio frequency licensing issues, and the imminent beginning of an hourly service to Lowestoft which would have been beyond the capacity of RETB, Track Circuit Block signalling (using AzLM axle counters) has replaced the RETB system, which was abolished after the last Ipswich - Lowestoft service reached Oulton Broad South on the night of Friday 19 October 2012. Between Saturday 20 October and Monday 22 October 2012 the new Track Circuit Block signalling system was commissioned and tested. The new signalling came into operation on Tuesday 23 October 2012, controlled from the existing signal box at Saxmundham. On 10 December 2012 a new passing loop and reinstated second platform opened at Beccles. 
The route sees a regular hourly passenger service (two-hourly on Sundays) running between Ipswich and Lowestoft operated by Class 170, Class 156 and Class 153 diesel multiple units. This service used to run all the way to London Liverpool Street but was stopped to enable longer electric trains to be used south of Ipswich. From December 2010, an hourly service was introduced between Ipswich and Saxmundham, and from December 2012 the hourly service was extended throughout the whole route to Lowestoft following the development of a passing loop at Beccles.
Under Network Rail planning the line is part of Strategic Route 7. The section between Ipswich and Westerfield is a part of SRS 07.12 and is classified as secondary line with the remainder of the line being part of SRS 07.11 and classified as rural.
Proposed developments 
Southwold Branch Line 
The Southwold Railway Society formed in 1994 hoped to re-instate all or part of the narrow gauge line however this has been rejected. A planning application for a railway steam park in Southwold was approved in February 2009.
- "The coming of the railway to the area". Belton History. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
- "East Suffolk Line". East Suffolk Line. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
- "Ipswich to London in under an hour aim". 2010-01-22. Retrieved 2010-03-30.[dead link]
- "Route 7 - Great Eastern". Network Rail. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- https://www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk/News-Releases/7220/New-hourly-service-on-East-Suffolk-line Accessed: 10 December 2012
- Suffolk: Problems remain as Beccles rail loop opens on East Suffolk line, East Anglian Daily Times, 2012-12-10. Retrieved 2012-12-10.