Following the completion of a £25,000 feasability study Network Rail is backing a plan to build a passing loop at Beccles Station. The extra track will allow trains to run every hour between Lowestoft and Ipswich, some of those services include trains which run through to London. The present track layout, a 16 mile single section between Outlon Broad junction and Halesworth, can only accomdate trains every two hours in each direction. As a cost cutting measure British Rail singled the East Suffolk Line in 1984 in two areas: the section passing through Beccles, and between Saxmundham and Woodbridge.
In recent years the East Suffolk Line has seen double digit passenger growth year on year due to the introduction of new Class 170 three-car trains, and a six fold increase in through services to London introduced by National Express East Anglia. A recent survey undertaken on behalf of the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership showed passegner numbers were actually being undercounted by 50%.
The loop project involves laying a new section of track and points work at and around Beccles Station. No additional land is needed as at one time 4 tracks ran through the station. The extra track will also allow Network Rail to refurbish the now disused central platform.
The cost of the project is expected to come in around £5 million. Earlier this year Suffolk County Council announced it would bid to secure regional funding for the loop. If all goes as planned hourly trains could be running on the East Suffolk Line as early as 2012.