East Suffolk rail line to close for nine days while new track is laid

A Greater Anglia train arrives at Halesworth Train Station. Picture: James Bass

A Greater Anglia train arrives at Halesworth Train Station. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

The East Suffolk rail line is to be closed between Ipswich and Halesworth for nine days to allow a team of engineers to install five miles of new track.

The line will be closed between July 29 and August 6 to enable 1,500 Network Rail engineers to complete the work.

Train operator Greater Anglia will operate a rail replacement bus service during the track renewal work linking Ipswich with Halesworth and intermediate stations including Woodbridge, Wickham Market and Saxmundham. Other stations on the East Suffolk line at Lowestoft, Oulton Broad South, Beccles and Brampton will be unaffected by the work, however passengers will have to travel on buses between Halesworth and Ipswich.

The work will replace track which is wearing out. It will not allow trains to travel any faster – but it should be more reliable and be less susceptible to damage. The closure will come at the start of the school holidays when fewer people will be using the rail line to travel to work – but it is quite popular with holidaymakers heading for day trips to Lowestoft or other towns in east Suffolk.

A spokesman for Network Rail said if there was no nine-day closure, the line would have had to be closed for seven weekends to carry out the work.

Simon Ancona, Network Rail’s chief operating officer for Anglia, said: “This work will improve reliability and keep services running smoothly as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan.

“I understand the inconvenience of the closure, but this amount of work can only be completed when the line isn’t in use. We’ve planned the work over a nine-day period rather than a series of weekend closures so it can be completed more quickly.”

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Jamie Burles, managing director of Greater Anglia, said: “We will make sure that customers are able to complete their journeys during the works.

“We have a full and comprehensive rail replacement bus service planned and staff on hand. The bus timetables are published on our website under ‘service alterations’ for each date.”

Rod Lock, secretary of the East Suffolk Travellers’ Association, said the work needed to be done and a total closure would probably be easier than having work over several weekends. He said: “If they provide a good bus service then people will have to put up with it – the work has to be done. It is easier than dragging it out for weeks.”