Earlier this year the East Suffolk Line Community Rail Partnership commissioned a full survey of passenger numbers on the route. A company that specialises in rail passenger counts carried out the survey. All customers travelling were counted on and off all trains over three days. When compared with journey data held by ‘one’ Railway for the same period the survey revealed that the journey data understates the actual numbers travelling by around 50%.
The vast difference between ‘one’ Railway’s data and the new survey has much to do with Anglia Plus day ranger tickets, and some season tickets; both are not always credited as a journey made on the East Suffolk Line. In the case of Anglia Plus this happens because it is a ranger/rover ticket, and the passenger is free to travel anywhere within the Anglia Plus area without having to specify a station destination when purchasing the ticket. This is in contrast to single or return tickets which specify a starting and ending station destination.
Network Rail is currently studying options for the East Suffolk Line for the next 10 years. Known as a Route Utilisation Strategy, the RUS sets out how the railway throughout East Anglia can be developed in the future to increase its capacity and performance. Most importantly the RUS incorporates data provided by ‘one’ Railway, and not the new survey. The new survey results could influence the options being considered and make a much stronger case for the reinstatement of a dual section of track at Beccles; this would allow services on the line to run every hour as opposed to the current every-other-hour service.