Work starts on �2m rail scheme to provide hourly service between Lowestoft and Ipswich

WORK on linking the two largest towns in Suffolk with an hourly train service which will also give a boost to market towns in Waveney was marked with a ceremony at Beccles station today.

The significance of the �4m 'Beccles loop' scheme was recognised with the attendance of three MPS and the leader of Suffolk County Council as well as leading figures from Network Rail and train operator Greater Anglia.

The project will see an additional stretch of track built alongside the disused platform at Beccles which will allow trains to pass in either direction. At present there is a single track between Halesworth and Oulton Broad which means that trains cannot pass each other for more than 16 miles.

As well as giving an hourly service between Ipswich and Lowestoft, the more frequent trains will also give a boost to market towns on the East Suffolk Line including Beccles and Halesworth, and provide a better connection to main line services.

The scheme is being jointly funded by Network Rail and Suffolk County Council and will bring a disused platform back into use at Beccles station and track and signalling works will also be carried out in October as part of a wider �21m project to resignal the East Suffolk Line to improve reliability and performance. It is hoped the new hourly service will start in December.

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Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for roads and transport, performed the opening ceremony.

'This scheme will provide a real boost for the economy of East Suffolk. Businesses will benefit greatly. It would not be happening were it not for support of Suffolk County Council but it is Network Rail that is making it happen and supplying the balance of the funding,' he said.

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Suffolk MPs Peter Aldous (Waveney), Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal) and Dan Poulter (Central Suffolk and north Ipswich) were all at the ceremony.

'This is fantastic news for east Suffolk and a regular timetable with hourly trains in both directions will give a boost to the whole area,' said Ms Coffey.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous agreed and said: 'Both Beccles and Lowestoft have train stations close to the town centres and an improved service will help attract visitors and boost the local economy.'

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