Government backs Beccles rail loop scheme

The government has today given the go-ahead to a �4 million project to improve rail travel in north Suffolk.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, gave his backing for a passing loop to be built on the East Suffolk line.

Network Rail has said it would contribute three-quarters of the cost if it had Government approval following the comprehensive spending review.

Mr Hammond's announcement that the project can proceed providing the remaining �1 million can be found from local sources was welcomed by Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council member with responsibility for transport.

'This is absolutely wonderful news and we must now make one final push to make sure that the other �1m will be found.

'I will certainly by encouraging my county council colleagues and businesses in east Suffolk to make sure this happens.'

Mr McGregor has been at the forefront of the campaign over the past six years to have a passing loop installed at Beccles.

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The loop will mean that train operator National Express will be able to run an hourly service between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

Because of the single line between Halesworth and Oulton Broad there is currently only a two-hour service on the line.

He said: 'We have worked very hard to make sure this project can go ahead as it will make a huge difference to people living in east and north Suffolk.

'It will mean that people living in Lowestoft, Beccles and Halesworth will have an hourly train service to Ipswich and its connections to the national rail network.

'It will also mean businesses in towns along the line will benefit by having a better rail service.'

In recent months Mr McGregor has been supported in the campaign for the Beccles passing loop by Waveney MP Peter Aldous and Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey.

'This is wonderful news and a better rail service is so important to everyone in the Waveney and Suffolk Coastal areas,' said Mr Aldous.

Mark Bee, leader of Waveney District Council and a member of Suffolk County Council, said: 'I am very happy to welcome the news and we will continue to ensure the county council keeps to its side of the bargain. It will make a massive difference.

'We want to work with the local community, the town and district council, to find ways to improve the railway station at Beccles as well so the whole thing can be given the facelift it desperately needs.'