The East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership (CRP) is pleased to present our 2018 – 2019 annual report which is available as a video.
The year began with a £60 million enhancement scheme from Network Rail to increase freight capacity by 40% on the Felixstowe Line. New tracks at Trimley were designed to also provide a more robust passenger service. The project included upgrades to level crossings, a new signalling system between Felixstowe and Westerfield, the creation of new footpaths and construction of a bridleway bridge joining the new paths. Works are continuing through the summer with the entire scheme scheduled for completion in just a few months.
Greater Anglia made improvements at many stations during the year including the installation of real-time information screens at Wickham Market and Melton; additional screens were placed at Derby Road, Darsham and Halesworth with the replacement of older LED screens at most other stations. Ticket machines and CCTV were installed at all stations except for Brampton.
The Community Rail Partnership (CRP) launched a new rail/bus through-ticketing scheme with First Eastern Counties enabling passengers to buy one ticket good on both Greater Anglia trains and the First Bus Service 64 to Leiston and Aldeburgh. The CRP sponsored the FolkEast bus connection at Wickham Market station for the third consecutive year providing festival-goers an end-to-end seamless journey for the ‘last mile’ from the rail station to their final destination. Greater Anglia and the CRP developed a ranger ticket for good for unlimited travel on both lines; the work was done in conjunction with local businesses to offer passengers special retail offers for using the new ticket.
Two new routes were added to the CRP’s station-to-station way-marked footpaths; volunteers at Holywells Park installed the final post linking together the expanded 160 mile system and helped launch a new companion walks booklet. Guided walks were held throughout the year to promote the footpaths and booklet. The Suffolk Walking Festival choose the CRP’s Ipswich to Lowestoft walking routes for this year’s 5-day challenge walk.
New station adopters joined at Derby Road and Westerfield where a patch of nettles was transformed into a station garden in just a few weeks; at Oulton Broad South the Suffolk Wildlife Trust became the new adopters with an ambitious plan to transform the station into a gateway to the Broads National Park and Peto’s Marsh.
The £100,000 project to restore the parcels office at Lowestoft was completed in May; the scheme also saw the installation of Victorian style lighting along with new doors on the concourse which re-connect the station with Station Square and the town centre. The scheme was funded by the East Suffolk Lines CRP, Wherry Lines CRP, Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) and the Railway Heritage Trust.
The year was capped off with a celebration of the line’s 160th Birthday on 1 June with a guided walk from Halesworth, the same location where the line opened to Ipswich the same day in 1859. Celebrations were also held at Wickham Market station, Darsham Station, Halesworth and District Museum, and Beccles and District Museum.
For the year the Ipswich – Lowestoft route saw 725,000 journeys, a record number and an increase of 110% during the past nine years.