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Engineering trains wipe out rush-hour services on the East Suffolk line

PUBLISHED: 14:58 04 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:10 04 February 2020

There were no early trains through Woodbridge on the East Suffolk Line. Picture: JAMES GARTHWAITE

There were no early trains through Woodbridge on the East Suffolk Line. Picture: JAMES GARTHWAITE

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Network Rail has apologised to passengers and promised to review the way it carries out work in the Lowestoft area after it cut off the East Suffolk Line during Tuesday morning's peak period.

Lowestoft station is currently closed while Network Rail carries out signalling work on the lines from there to Norwich - and East Suffolk line trains start and end at Beccles, with a bus connection to Suffolk's second largest town.

But on Tuesday the East Suffolk Line was partially closed because three engineering trains from Lowestoft and one heading to the town were delayed.

They should have travelled along the line in the middle of the night when there are no other trains operating, but were delayed and were not ready to make the journey until later. As a result some passenger trains were unable to reach Beccles to form some early trains. Two of the busiest trains were lost, meaning many passengers were unable to get to work or other appointments on time - with services not returning to normal until the 11am arrival in Ipswich.

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The problems caused by Network Rail came just as passenger confidence was starting to improve after January's problems on the route caused by issues with Greater Anglia's new bimode trains.

A Network Rail spokeswoman said: "I'd like to say sorry to passengers using the East Suffolk Line this morning whose journeys were delayed. This was because of issues with our engineering trains leaving Lowestoft as planned, which impacted on the passenger service. We are reviewing the incident to prevent any recurrence."

The new signalling on the Norwich to Lowestoft line should not affect East Suffolk line trains, but the last mile of the journey into the resort is shared by the two lines.

The engineering work is due to continue until February 23 - but the Beccles to Lowestoft section of the East Suffolk Line is due to open a week earlier on February 24.

Network Rail decided to do the work during a three-week closure rather than installing new signalling and level crossings over a series of weekends, because that way the work would have taken many months to complete. Network Rail says the new signalling should be much more reliable and allow trains to run better.

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