Rural rail lines across region flourish thanks to community partners

Members of the Community Rail Partnership promote the FolkEast link at Wickham Market station.

Members of the Community Rail Partnership promote the FolkEast link at Wickham Market station. - Credit: Archant

Rural rail services across East Anglia have been given a big boost thanks to community partnerships – with new initiatives helping to bring more passengers to the lines.

Most rural lines operated by Greater Anglia have their own Community Line Partnership aimed at boosting passenger numbers.

The East Suffolk Lines partnership works with communities on the routes from Ipswich to Lowestoft and Felixstowe.

It has been successful in promoting tourism and leisure within Suffolk with projects including:

The launch of a new national website to encourage tourism by rail.

Sponsorship of a rail-bus link to the Folk East Festival in August.

Producing new signs promoting Beccles as a gateway to the Broads National Park

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Publishing a hugely popular walking guide featuring more than 70 miles of routes linking Suffolk railway stations with the county’s coast, countryside, industrial heritage, rivers and broads.

It also helped to win grant funding for a new canopy at the recently restored Wickham Market Station.

At Felixstowe, the CRP is actively working with local businesses to promote events within the town and improve signage and pedestrian access between the station and town centre.

Last summer, the CRP hosted a number of celebrations including tea parties and music to mark the 90th Birthday of The Queen and 50th anniversary of the line’s reprieve from the Beeching Axe – an event which subsequently won first prize at a prestigious national award ceremony.

There is also a partnership supporting branch lines in Essex – those running to Harwich, Walton on the Naze, Sudbury (the line is mainly in Essex), Braintree, and Southminster.

On the “Mayflower Line” from Manningtree to Harwich Town volunteers have done much work to improve nature attractions on a route that passes through some of the most important estuary wildlife in the region – especially a project to attract more bees.

And on the line between Braintree and Witham, volunteers have helped to improve stations which had been left looking drab in a bid to attract more regular passengers to the trains.