Through trains from East Suffolk to London still a long way off

Woodbridge train

Through trains from stations like Woodbridge are unlikely to return in the near future. - Credit: Paul Geater

The chance of seeing the reintroduction of through trains from the East Suffolk Line to London seems to be getting further away as the rail industry recovers from the effects of the Covid pandemic.

Reintroducing through trains on the line from Lowestoft through Saxumundham and Woodbridge to the capital was a key element of the 10-year franchise awarded to Greater Anglia in 2016.

However that was dependent on the introduction of new trains and upgrades to sections of the line between Ipswich and London.

The new bi-mode trains have arrived and there have been some track improvements - but not enough to provide the extra space that would be needed for the through trains.

The franchise agreements were cancelled last year in the midst of the pandemic as part of the restructuring of the railways so there is no longer any requirement for the through trains to be introduced.

However Jonathan Denby from Greater Anglia said it still hoped to have some through trains on the route at some point: "That is still an aspiration but we don't yet know what the long-term structure of the industry will be.

"The necessary upgrades aren't in the programme yet and it may be that eventually through trains can run at weekends but not every day - we shall have to see how things develop."

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The issue of through trains on the line is due to be discussed at the annual general meeting of the East Suffolk Travellers' Association at Beccles station on May 21 at 2pm which will be addressed by Waveney MP Peter Aldous.

The future shape of the industry and the role of the new Great British Railways organisation that will be charged with running and promoting it should become clearer with the publication of a new Transport White Paper later this year.

The East Suffolk line had a single through train to and from London until 1984 and a few through trains were introduced in the early 2000s - but all passengers have had to change at Ipswich for several years now.