Rail shake-up casts doubt on Lowestoft to London direct line
- Credit: Archant
Direct services between Lowestoft and London are in doubt after the biggest railway shake-up in 25 years was given the go ahead last week.
The service was promised as part of Abellio's nine-year franchise agreement with the Department for Transport, which began in October 2016 and would have seen four trains each way per day between Lowestoft and London.
However, Great British Railways is set to take over train operations across the country later this year which means the local Greater Anglia franchise will cease to exist, leading to fears it will be delayed further or forgotten.
MP for Waveney Peter Aldous said the direct line was needed to improve accessibility and encourage business investment in Lowestoft.
He said: "Greater Anglia undertook to provide a through-train service from Lowestoft to Liverpool Street when their franchise was extended for the period to 2025 and whilst Covid has disrupted rail services over the past year I would expect them to honour this commitment.
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"If they are unable to do so before the franchise is replaced with a new concession agreement with Great British Railways then the service should be incorporated in this new agreement."
According to Greater Anglia, when some direct services were in place between 2005 and 2010 there was only a 10 per cent increase in passenger journeys on the east Suffolk line.
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But the introduction of an hourly Monday to Saturday frequency between Lowestoft and Ipswich in two stages, in 2010 and 2012, has resulted in an increase of over 110 per cent in passenger journeys.
A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia confirmed there was still no date yet in sight for a potential direct line while the rail operator managed the route.
She said: “The introduction of direct services from Lowestoft to London was subject to several factors including new trains, sufficient line capacity for additional services and the ability to introduce services without any adverse impacts on other services.
“The new trains are in service, but the other factors still provide constraints which currently make it impractical to introduce direct services.
"However, we are continuing to look for opportunities to enable some direct services to be introduced, although, at this point, there are no indications of when that might be."