The East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership (ESLCRP) is pleased to present our 2019 – 2020 annual report which is available as a video below.
The year began with the completion of the Network Rail Felixstowe Line enhancement scheme. A new bridleway bridge was opened over the new dual section of track near Trimley and the upgrading of four level crossings capped off the £60.5 million project; freight capacity on the line has been increased by 40% and the new tracks provide for a more robust passenger service.
Network Rail installed axle counters at 27 locations between Ipswich and Lowestoft which make crossing the track at 28 manual crossings much safer; the axle counters give a more precise a train’s location and also help to reduce wait times at the crossings.
The old semaphore signals at Lowestoft were replaced with modern ones and new tracks were installed as part of the Wherry Lines re-signalling scheme. New signals were also installed at Oulton Broad South.
Greater Anglia completed the upgrade of customer information screens at all East Suffolk Lines stations; a screen was installed at Brampton providing real-time information to East Suffolk’s smallest and most rural station for very the first time.
For the fourth year running the Community Rail Partnership sponsored the Folk East bus connection at Wickham Market station; the service allowed festival-goers to take the train to Wickham Market station and catch a free shuttle bus to and from the festival; the bus connected with more than 90 trains. Patronage went up by 39% compared to 2018.
The CRP worked with Samaritans on their suicide prevention campaigns, installed posters at stations and took part in ‘Brew Monday’ at Ipswich station in January; free tea bags were handed out whilst helping to raise money for the charity.
New station adopters joined at Westerfield, Trimley and Saxmundham. The station adopters at Westerfield and Lowestoft won accolades for their efforts with station gardens and flowers at the 2019 Greater Anglia station adopter awards last October.
The East Suffolk Lines walks team hosted station-to-station guided walks throughout the year. More new signage was added where the routes intersect to make it easier for ramblers following key-point directions in East Suffolk Lines Walks Booklet.
The booklet, guided walks and routes were shortlisted for an award at the 2019 Community Rail Awards in Telford. The Lowestoft Central project, a scheme part funded by the East Suffolk Lines CRP and Wherry Lines CRP, saw the station’s the old parcels office turned into an exhibition space; the project won third place in the category Most Improved Station Buildings and Surroundings.
As a way to thank passengers for their patronage throughout the year the Community Rail Partnership teamed up with the Rabble Chorus and Ukulele Band from Halesworth for a festive fun train journey 21 December from Ipswich to Lowestoft return. The CRP handed out sweets and goody bags to those onboard whilst singing traditional Christmas carols.
Also in December the Ipswich – Lowest service was expanded to hourly seven days a week with a doubling of the number of services running on Sundays. At the same time train operator Greater Anglia began replacing the old diesel trains with a brand new bi-mode fleet. The new trains are much longer, with more seats, free WiFi, and plug and USB sockets. They have more space for bicycles and wheelchairs and a lower floor height making level boarding possible at many stations.
On 29 May, just a few days before our financial year ended, the CRP was awarded accredited status by the Department for Transport. Accreditation is formal recognition that the Community Rail Partnership operates to a high standard and that its objectives and activities are supported by Government.