Major boost to region's train services
By Danielle NuttallDOZENS of extra trains are to be introduced across East Anglia's rail network as part of a major timetable shake-up to boost frequency.
By Danielle Nuttall
DOZENS of extra trains are to be introduced across East Anglia's rail network as part of a major timetable shake-up to boost frequency.
The new schedule, announced yesterday by rail operator One, will see more direct train services between Lowestoft and London on the east Suffolk line and in west Suffolk via Bury St Edmunds.
It will also include extra stops at Chelmsford, Shenfield and Stratford, and between Harwich and London.
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One spokesman, Peter Meades, said communities along the east Suffolk line, including Woodbridge and Beccles, would be “huge winners” under the new timetable, as well people living in the west of the county.
“It's a huge reverse in fortunes. It's obviously a commitment to the region and I think we see that there will be major benefits from this, for both commuting and leisure travel,” he added.
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Bob Feltwell, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said the increased train frequency added economic value to the area and made it more accessible to businesses.
“One of the complaints that businesses have when coming to the area is the poor infrastructure in terms of roads and various other things and having increases in rail services is obviously very welcome,” he added.
“It will give more flexibility and more opportunities for people to live, work and grow their businesses in this part of the world.
“Whether we like it or not, communication between Lowestoft and London and Ipswich and London is still vital because we have not reached the stage when we don't need to meet people to do business.”
Paul Dixon, of the Rail Passengers' Committee, welcomed the extra services, saying it was a “step in the right direction”.
He added: “The key thing from a passenger's perspective is we want a reliable service which runs on time, which is clean and provides good information. That's the bottom line.
“We welcome the developments we have got here and really hope One will be able to deliver continued improvements in punctuality and its train services.”
The new timetable comes into force on December 12 and is part of the improvements that One pledged as part of the new Greater Anglia rail franchise, which was launched in April.
It features six direct train services from Lowestoft to London Liverpool Street along the east Suffolk line every day from Monday to Friday, and seven per day from London to Lowestoft.
There will also be a later evening departure from London to Lowestoft at 9pm and new direct timetabled services, such as Lowestoft to Colchester and Woodbridge to Chelmsford.
All trains will be operated by modern, Class 170 turbo diesel trains in an improvement to the rolling stock on the route.
One is also introducing five trains a day, Monday to Friday, from London to Peterborough, via Bury St Edmunds, and six a day from Peterborough to London.
Mr Meades said: “One of the major facts that came out of research is that people in the region want to use the train, but are put off because they don't want to change. The new timetable is written around these principles.
“The communities on the east Suffolk line and places like Bury will be huge winners on that principle.”
He added: “It's a huge commitment on our part to play a part in economic regeneration, particularly in north Suffolk.
“Clearly, there is a lot of work going on to invest in Lowestoft, but raising the profile of the east Suffolk line is obviously good news for the region as a whole.”
The number of trains on the Norwich to London route will increase weekdays from 65 to 70 per day, 35 in each direction.
There will be an improvement to morning peak departures from Norwich at mostly 15-minute intervals between 6.10am and 8am, more stops for Diss and a later evening train from Norwich to London departing at 10pm.
Services between Ipswich and Cambridge will be improved to an hourly frequency throughout the day, with four extra trains operating in each direction.
New direct off-peak services will also operate between Harwich and London, with an hourly frequency of trains in each direction.