MP calls for investment for east coast rail lines

Waveney MP Peter Aldous

Waveney MP Peter Aldous unveils a timeline on Lowestoft station earlier this month to mark the 175th anniversary of the railway arriving in the town. - Credit: Mick Howes

An MP has called for investment to help cut journey times on popular rail routes.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous led calls for upgrades to the Wherry and East Suffolk branch lines during a debate in the House of Commons.

Trains at Lowestoft rail station.

Trains at Lowestoft rail station. - Credit: Mick Howes

Mr Aldous said during the debate, entitled East Suffolk and Wherry Railway Lines, last Thursday evening (May 19) that if "the right investment" is secured now it "can bring major benefits and job opportunities to communities all along the two lines in both East Suffolk and East Norfolk."

According to the latest passenger numbers, Mr Aldous said that last month "the numbers on both lines were up 19 per cent" on the equivalent period in 2019.

The timeline unveiled to mark the 175th anniversary of the railway arriving in Lowestoft.

The timeline unveiled to mark the 175th anniversary of the railway arriving in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

With the Wherry Line running between Norwich and Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, Mr Aldous said journey times on the East Suffolk line from Lowestoft to Ipswich had not reduced since it opened 163 years ago.

He said: "There is a concern that the East Suffolk line and the Wherry line — which are, respectively, east of Ipswich and east of Norwich — are left out on a limb and are not properly incorporated into the rest of the national rail network.

"They are not just branch lines like something out of 'The Titfield Thunderbolt' but vital economic arteries serving growing communities and deserve investment."

The timeline unveiled to mark the 175th anniversary of the railway arriving in Lowestoft.

The timeline unveiled to mark the 175th anniversary of the railway arriving in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

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Despite "some significant improvements" to both east Suffolk and east Norfolk's branch lines in the past 12 years, Mr Aldous said he was concerned that "perhaps attention on the network has been diverted elsewhere."

Mr Aldous said he wanted to see Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth linked more directly into the improved London and East Midland networks.

With new faster trains operating on the lines since 2019, he said timetables also needed re-assessing.

In response, Transport Minister Wendy Morton said she understood the importance of connectivity to Lowestoft and the call for direct services into London.

"I absolutely recognise the importance of the East Suffolk and Wherry railway lines," she said.

"We should continue to look for opportunities to deliver further improvements to the infrastructure and our railways in the region."