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Work on East Suffolk Line will see century-old track replaced

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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.”

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.

Image credit: Network Rail

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