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Early talks underway for rail scheme to boost Mid Suffolk destinations

PUBLISHED: 14:59 02 August 2018

Needham Market train station could be one of the ones to benefit if the scheme went ahead Picture: GREGG BROWN

Needham Market train station could be one of the ones to benefit if the scheme went ahead Picture: GREGG BROWN

Early discussions are underway to form a rail partnership in Mid Suffolk that will boost tourism and promote destinations in the area.

Mary Evans said the county council would welcome a scheme in Mid Suffolk Picture: GREGG BROWNMary Evans said the county council would welcome a scheme in Mid Suffolk Picture: GREGG BROWN

The community rail partnership scheme aims to improve stations along a certain route, encourage people to travel, promote destinations along the route and boost the community in the area.

Currently, eight partnerships operate on Greater Anglia routes, with early talks set to take place for the Ipswich-Cambridge line after Mid Suffolk District Council approved a motion to investigate the possibility.

It will see the council liaising with Suffolk County Council and Greater Anglia over the possibility.

John Matthissen, Green councillor for Onehouse who put forward the motion, said: “The community rail partnerships are a good way of promoting tourism and therefore bring money into the economy, and they can do that in a way that doesn’t mean anymore traffic which is good.”

John Matthissen said it would boost tourism in the area Picture: OWEN HINESJohn Matthissen said it would boost tourism in the area Picture: OWEN HINES

Greater Anglia offers start-up grants of up to £20,000, but is understood to require match funding from other partner organisations, meaning talks are needed between the councils over whether it is viable.

Mr Matthissen said that with four of the eight stops on the route being in the district – Thurston, Elsmwell, Stowmarket and Needham Market – there was an opportunity to reap the benefits.

A spokeswoman from Greater Anglia said: “In our new franchise, we are investing £3.5million into supporting our existing community rail partnerships and seeking to develop new ones.

“Community rail partnerships aim to encourage more people to travel, promote destinations along the line, improve stations and make them a stronger part of the community.

“The East Suffolk line CRP recently worked with Greater Anglia and First Eastern Counties buses to introduce a new rail/bus ticket to Aldeburgh.

“We would welcome a new community rail partnership between Ipswich and Cambridge, and will discuss this further with the relevant local authorities.”

A firm commitment of cash or a timescale for talks have not yet been made clear.

Mary Evans, cabinet member for transport at the county council, said: “We would welcome a community rail partnership for Mid Anglia which would provide economic benefits, as well as opportunities for local communities to get more involved in their local railway station and promotion of the train services.

“Discussions are in the early stages but if Greater Anglia as the major funder of the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership are willing to support the proposed Mid Anglia Community Rail Partnership financially, then we will work with Mid Suffolk District Council and other partners to support this.”

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