Published on: Monday, 27 September 2021
Last updated: Monday, 27 September 2021
The completion of a £1.3 million upgrade for Saxmundham station in Suffolk was marked with a ceremony at the station this morning.
Local MP and government minister the Rt Hon Dr Therese Coffey MP joined representatives from Greater Anglia, local authorities (including Suffolk County Council), the East Suffolk Lines community rail partnership and the East Suffolk Travellers Association to herald the conclusion of the major project to improve the station with a range of enhancements.
The most significant initiative is the remodelling of the station building with a new waiting room for passengers, with seating and air conditioning, plus wi-fi access, and laptop and phone charging points. There is also a new area for the self-service ticket machine, the platform canopy has been refurbished and the station area is now covered by CCTV.
The substantial investment in better customer facilities follows a devastating fire in 2018 which caused such severe damage to the original building that the roof and first floor had collapsed into the building itself.
In addition to the revamp and remodelling of the station building, a new northbound platform 2 has been installed, with a new shelter and seating (replacing the old platform). In addition, the access ramp was refurbished and the fence to the rear of the platform was replaced.
The car park has also been upgraded and extended, with 48 parking bays, two blue badge parking bays and motorcycle parking, all covered by improved CCTV, and new landscaped areas. The car park benefits from new lighting and new access to the southbound platform.
The project was supported by Railway Heritage Trust, which contributed £100,000.
The extensive improvements at the station provide a much better interchange for customers and compliment the benefits provided by the high-quality new trains on the East Suffolk line, as well as creating a positive gateway to the town.
Greater Anglia’s Asset Management Director, Simone Bailey, said, “Seeing the lovely old building ravaged by fire was devastating. We initially thought that the entire building would have to be demolished.
“We’re pleased to have worked closely with the community, listening to their views to come up with an upgrade programme which, although it does not reinstate the entire building, keeps its character and improves the facilities.
“We have worked with several contractors throughout this project and would like to thank them all for their hard work, along with the Railway Heritage Trust for its generous contribution. We would also like to thank customers for their patience while the work was carried out. We are so pleased with the finished result and we hope customers and the local community enjoy the benefits.”
The new waiting room will be open from 07.00-16.00 on Mondays to Saturdays with the help of the local Network Rail signalling team.
A new wildlife garden is also being created by the station adopters, Sally Ford and Deborah Dann, which has been kindly funded by East Suffolk District Council and Saxmundham Town Council.
Sally and Deborah are creating a number of wildflower areas at the station, including a large area at the bottom of the car park. They plan to install a hedgehog house and use recycled wood to create refuges for insects and other small invertebrates, as well as putting up bird boxes.
They will also receive help from award winning garden designer, Frederic Whyte, who has been commissioned by the Town Council to design a planting scheme for the borders at the front of the station.
L-R Greater Anglia Head of Corporate Affairs Jonathan Denby, Rt Hon Therese Coffey MP, Greater Anglia Asset Management Director Simone Bailey. Credit: Greater Anglia