In January Suffolk County Council commissioned a study from transport consultant Faber Maunsell to look at improvements on the East Suffolk Line which would facilitate an hourly service. The study covered the cost of the improvements, costs of running trains hourly, expected revenue, and the projected increase in passenger numbers as a result. An extensive 76 page report was produced outlining several options. Reinstating a passing loop at Beccles was identified as the most practical alternative in the short term, with a minimum cost. This option has a projected cost of £2.4 million with an additional £1.1 million per year for operating costs including the leasing of rolling stock (two class 156 two-car diesel units). While this option would allow an hourly service, there would be no increase in line speeds, although higher speeds could be achieved in the future with additional improvements.
The East Suffolk Line Community Rail Partnership (CRP) contribution to the study recommends an hourly service, shorter journey times by having Lowestoft – London through trains call at Lowestoft, Beccles, Halesworth, Saxmundham, Woodbridge, and Ipswich, with Lowestoft – Ipswich services calling at all stations. The CRP also recommended increasing line speeds where new continuous welded rail has already been installed, improving level crossings, and reinstating long sections of dual track to allow trains to pass at speed. Lengthening the three-car class 170 trains to four-car, along with lengthening station platforms was also suggested.
The report has been passed on to Network Rail.