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£4m Beccles Loop gets the green light

PUBLISHED: 15:18 29 October 2010

THE government yesterday gave the go-ahead to a £4million project to improve rail travel in north Suffolk.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, gave his backing for a passing loop to be built on the East Suffolk line at Beccles, which will allow for hourly trains on the northern stretch of track through Lowestoft, Oulton Broad, Beccles and Halesworth.

Network Rail has already said it would contribute three-quarters of the cost if it had government approval following the comprehensive spending review.

Mr Hammond’s announcement that the project can proceed providing the remaining £1 million can be found from local sources was welcomed by Suffolk County Council’s portfolio holder for roads and transport, Guy McGregor.

He said: “This is absolutely wonderful news and we must now make one final push to make sure that the other £1m will be found.

“I will certainly by encouraging my county council colleagues and businesses in east Suffolk to make sure this happens.”

Mr McGregor has been at the forefront of the campaign over the past six years to have a passing loop installed at Beccles. As there is currently only a single stretch of line between Halesworth and Oulton broad, trains cannot pass and services have to run every two hours.

He said: “We have worked very hard to make sure this project can go ahead as it will make a huge difference to people living in east and north Suffolk.

“It will mean that people living in Lowestoft, Beccles and Halesworth will have an hourly train service to Ipswich and its connections to the national rail network.

“It will also mean businesses in towns along the line will benefit by having a better rail service.”

In recent months Mr McGregor has been supported in the campaign for the Beccles passing loop by Waveney MP Peter Aldous and Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey.

“This is wonderful news and a better rail service is so important to everyone in the Waveney and Suffolk Coastal areas,” said Mr Aldous.

Mark Bee, leader of Waveney District Council and a member of Suffolk County Council, said: “I am very happy to welcome the news and we will continue to ensure the county council keeps to its side of the bargain. It will make a massive difference.

“We want to work with the local community, the town and district council, to find ways to improve the railway station at Beccles as well so the whole thing can be given the facelift it desperately needs.”

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