Century-old track to be replaced to make East Suffolk Line fit for the future: Replacing old track

Tuesday 15 Nov 2022

Century-old track to be replaced to make East Suffolk Line fit for the future

Region & Route:
Eastern: Anglia

Starting in December and continuing into next year, Network Rail will be carrying out vital track and embankment strengthening work on a section of the Ipswich-Lowestoft line.

The work will boost reliability for passengers but means that bus replacement services will run on part of the route for several weekends and 13 consecutive days in spring.

Some of the track being replaced was laid nearly 100 years ago and there are joints between each section of rail. When trains go over this old track, they make the clickety-clack sound that some may associate with a bygone era.

The new, modern rail will be continuously welded, which will help to reduce noise caused by passing trains. Engineers will also completely replace the ballast and sleepers which support the rails. This will minimise faults and help to keep services running reliably on the line.

Whilst the track work is taking place, Network Rail will be improving the surfaces on seven level crossings around Woodbridge, which are currently old and uneven. Once this is complete, the level crossings will be easier and safer to use for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

Bus replacement will run between Ipswich and Saxmundham on the following weekends:

  • Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 December
  • Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 December
  • Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 January
  • Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 January
  • Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 January
  • Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 January
  • Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 February
  • Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 February

Work will continue later in the spring, when bus replacement will run between Ipswich and Saxmundham for 13 consecutive days: Saturday 25 March to Thursday 6 April. During this time, as well as completing the track and level crossing work, engineers will be strengthening an embankment that supports a stretch of line to the south-west of Woodbridge. This is essential to keep trains running safely in future and to allow the track on the embankment to be replaced later in 2023.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “It is hugely important that we replace this old track and strengthen the embankment so that we can safely run trains along the East Suffolk Line for years to come. This is a major package of works that will regrettably mean some disruption. I’d like to thank Greater Anglia passengers and the local community for bearing with us while we upgrade their railway and drive down delays.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: “This improvement work will help make services even more punctual along the East Suffolk Line. Our new trains are running on these routes and this engineering work will help modernise the line and provide a more comfortable journey for passengers as well as making the railway a better neighbour for the local community.

“A rail replacement bus service will run while the work takes place, so customers can complete their journeys. We would like to thank customers for their patience while this work is carried out.”

Full size bicycles and e-scooters cannot be carried on rail replacement buses.

The level crossings in Woodbridge that are being upgraded will need to be closed at times during this period. Network Rail is working with the local community to minimise the impact of the closures, including by installing a temporary accessible footbridge near the station. People are encouraged to use the bridge and other alternative routes to visit shops, restaurants and businesses to the east of the railway when level crossings are closed.

Passengers are advised to check before they travel at www.greateranglia.co.uk or www.nationalrail.co.uk

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Richard Cooper
Communications manager
Network Rail

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