Plan to boost county's train services
By David LennardPUBLIC transport in one corner of East Anglia has been given a boost with a fresh initiative to get more people onto trains.A new community partnership has been formed between Suffolk County Council, Anglia Railways and other councils and organisations for the East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Lowestoft.
By David Lennard
PUBLIC transport in one corner of East Anglia has been given a boost with a fresh initiative to get more people onto trains.
A new community partnership has been formed between Suffolk County Council, Anglia Railways and other councils and organisations for the East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Lowestoft.
It is hoped the move will give a big boost to communities in north Suffolk including Halesworth, Brampton, Beccles, Oulton Broad and Lowestoft and build on the success of established partnerships in Norfolk.
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Anglia Railways managing director, Tim Clarke, said: “I am very pleased to be working with our local authority partners and other stakeholders in establishing a new Community Rail Partnership for Suffolk, repeating the success of the Norfolk partnerships, which have really caught the imagination of train users and local communities.”
Joan Girling, a member of Suffolk County Council's executive committee, added: “One of Suffolk County Council's top priorities is to encourage more people to use public transport.
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“We are fortunate to have the East Suffolk Railway Line, it is an excellent strategic link.”
Mrs Girling said the new partnership would ensure all partners worked together to achieve an integrated public transport service for passengers.
It is hoped the new approach will see a range of benefits including improvements to stations, the publication of colourful line guides, integrated transport schemes and a whole range of marketing-led initiatives to boost awareness and usage of local train services.
The East Suffolk Line is one of the longest branch lines in the country and provides an alternative route to the A12, linking a number of communities as well as Ipswich and Lowestoft, the two largest towns in the county.
A steering group led by the county council has been set up to plan the development of the new partnership for the East Suffolk Line.
The group includes representatives of the county council, Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk Acre and Anglia Railways.
A scheme involving Anglia Railways and the bus company First Eastern was set up last year and has improved services to passengers in the Halesworth and Southwold area.
Timetables have been set so buses to and from Southwold are waiting at Halesworth railway station when the trains arrive. It is also possible to buy a ticket that allows travel on both the train and the bus.
The East Suffolk Travellers' Association (ESTA) has long been involved in promoting better public transport in the area.
An ESTA spokesman said: “We will always support new initiatives aimed at improving public transport in east Suffolk and we welcome this new partnership.”
Members of the new partnership will be hoping the East Suffolk Line mirrors the successes achieved on the Bittern Line between Norwich and Sheringham and the Wherry Lines between Norwich and Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.
The number of passengers using the Bittern Line has increased by more than 40% since the community partnership was introduced in 1997.