Passengers will have to flag down trains

RAIL passengers on the Suffolk/Essex border will have to flag down certain trains if they want to board them, it has been revealed.

Will Clarke

RAIL passengers on the Suffolk/Essex border will have to flag down certain trains if they want to board them, it has been revealed.

The National Express announcement that evening services will no longer automatically stop at Bures and Chappell Wakes Colne on the Sudbury to Marks Tey trains has been greeted with dismay.

Bosses said they made the decision after learning that the services at 7.22pm and 8.08pm carried on average three passengers and was holding up busier trains travelling in the opposite direction.

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However, villagers in Bures said they were unaware of the changes to the route, which is popular with people heading for an evening in Sudbury's clubs and pubs, and reacted with astonishment at the unusual arrangements.

Jenny Wright, clerk of Bures Hamlet Parish Council, which has recently surveyed rail use in the village, said she feared people might be caught unawares and miss their train. And she said the council had not been told officially of the new policy.

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She said: “I think it is terrible - why can't they stop at Bures? If they don't they will cause a lot of noise for those neighbouring the track. The lighting on the platform will also have to be improved if this is going to work.

“It is natural for it to stop and it is also safer for it travel more slowly through the village.”

Derek Monnery, chairman of the Essex Rail Users Federation, said he was surprised at National Express figures for the station as he would have expected there to be enough passengers to justify routine stopping.

“It is rare for there to be no-one getting on and off at a stop on that route,” he said. “I suppose it is practical at little used stations - it used to be quite common in the old days pre-Beeching.”

A spokeswoman for National Express said: “Passengers can either hail the train from the platform or inform the conductor where they want to get off.

“The reason for the changes is to help travellers in the opposite direction to be as punctual as possible. In the Marks Tey direction at that time there are on average three passengers.

“Train drivers will travel at an appropriate speed to see passengers so they will slow down through stops.”

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