East Anglia Branch Gallery - Beccles Station new passing loopIn the 1960s the Ipswich-Lowestoft 'East Suffolk' line was threatened with closure. The threat lasted until the early 1980s when a decision was taken to dramatically reduce the costs of operating the line by replacing signal boxes and manual level crossings with radio-based (Radio Electronic Token Block) signalling and introducing automatic barriers at level crossings. More controversially a decision was taken to single much of the line, which restricted the number of trains that could be run.
Railfuture East Anglia branch along with the line's rail user group, ESTA, had been campaigning for decades for a passing loop at Beccles - the mid-point of the longest stretch of single track - to allow trains to pass one another. This would allow the two-hourly service to become hourly, which would be much more attractive to passengers.
In 2011 the passing loop was funded, and would be done as part of the resignalling of the line in 2012 to replace the life-expired RETB equipment and also because the government wished to reassign the radio frequencies. The cost was brought down to £4 million because it was done at the same time as the resignalling.
The passing loop was installed in early May 2012 to be commissioned in time for the December 2012 timetable change that would see an hourly service between Ipswich and Lowestoft introduced. Another Railfuture campaign success!
Many thanks to ESTA member David Bickell for allowing Railfuture East Anglia branch to use his photos, one of which appeared in our Rail East newsletter.
View of the new passing loop at Beccles stationThese two photographs taken from the footbridge show the line looking south. The open platform is on the right-hand side (mainly showing the end that is not actually used by trains) and the platform that has been disused since 1984 is on the left-hand-side. It will be brought back into use to serve the south bound trains.
These photographs were taken on 13th May 2012, immediately after the new track had been ballasted.
This photo clearly shows how curved the platforms are at Beccles. The track on the right is part of the new 370-metre loop, and the platform next to it will be brought back into use. The island platform once had track on the far right as well.
These photographs were also taken on 13th May 2012.
Despite the trackworks being complete, some four months after these photos the second platform still had no public access, had not been cleared, had no fencing to restrict the public from the second face and extremities, and the edging and surface was not yet 'fit for purpose'.
This is the front cover of Railfuture's quarterly magazine Railwatch issue 132 (July 132), which shows an aerial photo of Beccles station looking south, hence it is upside down. The photo shows the location of the footbridge, from which some of the above shows were taken, and also how the track curves sharply right to the east at the northern end of the station.
Railwatch magazine is free to all members of Railfuture.
These photographs were taken in 2012, by Mike Page (see web-site) who specialists in aerial titles. His shot of the 8,000 people gathered to see the opening of the North Norfolk Railway's level crossing in 2011 was reproduced in numerous magazines.
Click on the image to see a high-quality PDF image (2MB) of the front cover.
This photo is from the Network Rail Media Centre web-site on a page dated 2nd April 2012. It shows the second platform with the adjacent trackbed before the new track was laid, although some of the materials had been stacked up on the platform.
The photo was issued by Network Rail to accompany a press release titled "Work oo Build Beccles Loop Underway." Its route managing director, Dave Ward, said: "This investment will make a huge difference to people living in the area and is part of our wider plans to build a bigger and better railway. Enabling more services will mean that people living along the East Suffolk Line will be better connected to the main line."