It will be at least 2012 before trains on the East Suffolk Line run hourly; that’s when Network Rail is expected to obtain funding to resignal the line. Resignalling is not what’s preventing trains from running more often, but rather a lack of dual tracks north of Halesworth. To provide trains every hour, a dual section, or loop, is needed at Beccles. The estimated cost for the Beccles Loop is projected at anywhere between £500,000 and £4 million.
In 1984, British Rail upgraded the East Suffolk Line to allow all trains to be controlled from a central signal box at Saxmundham. At the same time the line was singled between Woodbridge and Saxmundham, as was a sixteen mile section between Halesworth and the junction with the Wherry Line; this single section restricts service to every two hours in each direction.
Network Rail has suggested that funding for the dualling project might be secured when the signalling project goes ahead. Suffolk County Council has commissioned a engineering report for the Beccles Loop, and a study on the demand for such a project is expected to be finished this week.
The Beccles Loop is supported by rail operater ‘one’, the East Suffolk Travellers’ Association, Suffolk County Council, Waveney MP Bob Blizzard, local town councils, and rail passengers.