|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The Gainsborough Line is the marketing name of the Sudbury Branch Line, a single track railway line running through the rural area between Sudbury and Marks Tey in England with connecting trains from Marks Tey station to London, Colchester and other destinations. Prior to the Beeching Axe the line, known as the Stour Valley Railway also served Cambridge, Long Melford, Clare and Haverhill. The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 7, SRS 07.10 and is classified as a rural line.
The Stour Valley Railway opened on 9 August 1865 running from Cambridge via Shelford, Long Melford, Clare and Haverhill to join the current line from Sudbury to Marks Tey. The Shelford to Sudbury section was closed on 6 March 1967 as part of the Beeching Axe.
In December 2006 the line was designated as a "Community Railway" by the Transport Minister, and is part of the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership. The line is presently named after the painter Thomas Gainsborough who was born in Sudbury, and was previously named the Lovejoy Line, after the BBC television series filmed in the Sudbury area. All passenger services on the line are operated by Greater Anglia, which runs an approximately hourly shuttle service seven days a week. The first and last trains of the day run from and to Colchester, and one train each weekday morning runs to and from Colchester after the peak commuter services.
During July 2005 the line received around £3 million of investment, which saw around 5 miles (8 km) of old jointed track replaced with new continuous welded rail. August 2006 saw further investment, to replace around 6 miles (10 km) of track, leaving just the Chappel Viaduct and Lamarsh to Sudbury sections in need of modernisation. This work was completed in July 2007.
Official posters appeared at all stations on the line shortly before the Summer 2008 timetable came into effect on Sunday 18 May, advising travellers that the 1922 and 2008 services from Sudbury would be request stop at the intermediate statons. However, as of the 2012 timetable, all services are advertised as stopping at all stations without being request stops.
The line runs across the Chappel viaduct, which has 30 arches each with a 35 ft. span with a maximum height of 75 ft. and was the longest viaduct on the Great Eastern Railway. The East Anglian Railway Museum is located alongside the Chappel and Wakes Colne railway station.
The line is single track for its whole length, has a loading gauge of W6, and a line speed of 50 mph. Unlike other branch lines in the area, such as the Braintree branch and Harwich branch, the Gainsborough Line is not electrified and so trains are currently formed of British Rail Class 153 and Class 156 diesel multiple units.
- "Route 7 - Great Eastern". Network Rail. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
- Network Rail - Community Railways
- Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership
- 2012 Greater Anglia Sudbury-Marks Tey timetable.
- Allen, Cecil J. (1955). The Great Eastern Railway. Shepperton: Ian Allan Ltd. p. 61. ISBN 0-7110-0659-8.
- Complete history of the branch line from 1849 Bures web site