Updated 15 December and 9 December 2022
Starting in December Network Rail will begin a programme to replace stretches of track along the East Suffolk Line that were laid nearly a century ago. The work, which will continue into 2023, will also see the strengthening of an embankment to ensure the rail is fit for the future.
A bus replacement service will run on the route between Ipswich and Saxmundham for several weekends December 2022, January 2023 and February 2023 . There will also be a 13-day closure in Spring 2023.
Some of the track being replaced is nearly 100 years ago with joints between each section. When trains go over the joints, they make a familiar clickety-clack sound. Jointed rail also increases wear and tear on train wheels. The new rails will be continuously welded which will help reduce noise caused by passing trains, provide for a smoother ride, and reduce wear and tear.
Along with replacing the rails engineers will also completely replace the ballast and sleepers. This will help minimise faults and help to keep trains running reliably.
At the same time that the track work is taking place, Network Rail will be improving the surfaces on several level crossings in the Woodbridge area. At present, the crossing surfaces are uneven. Once the work is finished, the level crossings will be easier and safer to use for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
Rail Replacement Bus Ipswich – Saxmundham Late 2022 and Early 2023
- Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 December
- Saturday 17* and Sunday 18 December
- Saturday 7* and Sunday 8 January
- Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 January
- Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 January
- Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 January
- Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 February
- Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 February
* Strikes affect two of the days. The replacement bus service will not run Saturday 17/12 as there will be no East Suffolk Line services that day due to the strike. The same applies Saturday 7/1/2023 if that called strike goes ahead.
Thirteen Day Closure Ipswich – Saxmundham Spring 2023
Work will continue in the Spring of 2023 when a rail replacement bus service will run between Ipswich and Saxmundham for 13 consecutive days from Saturday 25 March to Thursday 6 April. During this time Network Rail will complete the track replacement along with the level crossing work and will begin strengthening an embankment that supports a stretch of line to the south west of Woodbridge. This is essential to keep trains running safely in future; it also enables Network Rail to replace the track on the embankment later in 2023.
Note: Full-size bicycles and e-scooters cannot be carried on rail replacement buses.
The level crossings in Woodbridge that are being upgraded will need to be closed at times during this period. Network Rail is working with the local community to minimise the impact of the closures. People are encouraged to use other alternative routes to visit shops, restaurants and businesses to the east of the railway when level crossings are closed.
In a change to previously published dates, the level crossings at Ferry Lane and Haywards in Woodbridge will remain open in the run up to Christmas to help minimise the impact on Christmas trade for local businesses. The level crossing closures in 2023 will be replanned dates when known.
Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “It is hugely important that we replace this old track and strengthen the embankment so that we can safely run trains along the East Suffolk Line for years to come. This is a major package of works that will regrettably mean some disruption. I’d like to thank Greater Anglia passengers and the local community for bearing with us while we upgrade their railway and drive down delays.”
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: “This improvement work will help make services even more punctual along the East Suffolk Line. Our new trains are running on these routes and this engineering work will help modernise the line and provide a more comfortable journey for passengers as well as making the railway a better neighbour for the local community.
“A rail replacement bus service will run while the work takes place, so customers can complete their journeys. We would like to thank customers for their patience while this work is carried out.”