Passengers fear for future of Felixstowe branchline

Ticket machine on the platform at Felixstowe Railway Station. Photograph Simon Parker

Ticket machine on the platform at Felixstowe Railway Station. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

Bosses at rail company Abellio Greater Anglia insist they remain committed to passenger services on the Felixstowe route – despite growing concern that passengers are being driven off the tracks by increasing unreliability.

This week there have been more trains on the route replaced by buses – and that has become a regular feature of travel bulletins over recent years. Yesterday there were no trains on the route until 10am – and after that there were further problems caused by signalling faults.

Former county council transport spokesman Graham Newman – who lives in Felixstowe – said this had led an increasing number of people from the town speculating that rail bosses were trying to close the passenger service by stealth to increase space for freight trains to the port.

He said: “I don’t really want to go along with these conspiracy theorists because there is a danger it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy – things are becoming quite serious.

“We regularly see trains withdrawn or replaced with buses at short notice and that is making people less confident about using the service.

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“When it works properly the train service from Felixstowe is very good – it goes from the town centre to the Ipswich station from where people can travel onwards or get into the town centre quite easily.”

He said problems on the line would be eased if Network Rail and the port could agree to double the track between Trimley and Derby Road – as was originally proposed in 2004.

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The line has been suffering because the rail company has seen an increasing number of mechanical problems hitting its fleet of diesel units during the autumn.

There have been problems requiring them to have wheels repaired – and on Monday there were further problems after a train was taken out of service after being involved in a collision at Kennett near Newmarket.

The company denied there was any plan to run down the number of passenger trains on the Felixstowe route.

An Abellio Greater Anglia spokesman said: “Unfortunately some train services on our local routes in Norfolk and Suffolk have been cancelled and altered due to a combination of train faults and a fatality incident. We are working to rectify the train faults as quickly as possible.

“Information regarding alternative travel arrangements is available at stations and on our website and we would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

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