East Suffolk’s Community Rail Partnership looks back on a successful year

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership (CRP) has published its annual progress report for 2013, looking back on another successful year for Suffolk’s local railway lines.

The report, available at www.eastsuffolkline.co.uk provides a summary of the Community Rail Partnership’s achievements in promoting and supporting the railway lines (which run from Ipswich to Lowestoft and Felixstowe) and sets out their commitments for the year ahead.

               

Highlights of the report include:

  • The introduction of an hourly train service between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

 

  • The construction of a new, £1M transport interchange at Lowestoft station.
  • Improvements at stations along the line, including: repainting, new help points (at Halesworth and Melton), new Customer Information Screens (at Oulton Broad South and Beccles) and new ticket vending machines (at Woodbridge, Saxmundham and Beccles).

 

  • Extensions to the car parks at Melton and Wickham Market which have also benefitted from improved lighting, and a planned car park for Darsham station.

 

  • Plans to bring redundant station buildings at Wickham Market, Saxmundham and Beccles back into use.
  • The re-opening of the waiting room at Saxmundham station.

There were also other positive initiatives such as work with station adopters (volunteers who, with Abellio Greater Anglia, work to improve the presentation and appearance of local stations) at stations along the Lines; a major travel promotion following the launch of the hourly service, the promotion of an hourly bus link from Halesworth to Southwold and the production of interpretation boards to promote the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty that are accessible from Darsham, Melton, Woodbridge and Trimley.

As a result of these major improvements, passenger numbers on the East Suffolk railway lines increased again last year to reach an all-time high of 653,000, an 11.5% increase on 2012.

Geof Butterwick, The East Suffolk Lines CRP Chairman, said, “The work of the Community Rail Partnership, in partnership with Abellio Greater Anglia, and all our other partners, has delivered further improvements to Suffolk’s community railway lines and it is pleasing to see that improvements to stations, convenient services and good promotion are together attracting more people to use their local railways.”

Jonathan Denby, Head of Corporate Affairs at Abellio Greater Anglia said, "The ongoing work of the East Suffolk Lines CRP provides valuable support to us as the train operator for these important rail lines and the communities along those routes. Our close partnership has again delivered upgrades and benefits for customers and local communities, with enhancements which not just improve rail services, but also support local economic, tourism, educational, transport and environmental objectives.  The effective work of the CRPs in partnership with us (and with our funding support) is a key factor in the continued success of these crucial regional rail arteries."

The CRP is principally funded by Abellio Greater Anglia and local authorities including, Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk Coastal District Council and Waveney District Council.

In 2014, the CRP aims to continue to promote and support the railways of Suffolk and take an active role in issues affecting the communities along the line, including involvement in the consultation on the proposed construction of Sizewell C power station.

The CRP is also encouraging residents and businesses to become involved to help shape the future of community rail in East Suffolk. Anyone interested should contact Tim Ward, CRP Officer, on 07775 698758 or via www.eastsuffolkline.com/about/contact.