Greater Anglia runs more trains as pupils return

Ipswich station staff

Extra staff will be on hand to help passengers. - Credit: Greater Anglia

Greater Anglia is to run more afternoon trains from next week when most pupils return to schools as lockdown restrictions are eased.

Hourly services are to be restored after 3pm to services from Ipswich to Cambridge, Lowestoft and Felixstowe - and to branch line services from Manningtree to Harwich and Marks Tey to Sudbury. These lines all had services cut at the start of the new lockdown.

The trains will give pupils the chance to travel home from school on a normal timetable - and more trains are expected to be re-introduced when further lockdown restrictions are eased with the relaxation of the "stay local" advice, currently expected next month.

Passengers are reminded to check before they travel using the Greater Anglia website or app where revised timetables are available - and extra staff will be on hand at stations to help and advise passengers.

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: “We’re constantly monitoring passenger numbers to make sure we put on the right number of trains and that they’re the right length for people to socially distance.

“Passenger numbers are still very low, but obviously with all schools and colleges going back on Monday 8 March, we anticipate more people travelling.

“I’d like to reassure all passengers that we’re doing everything we can to keep them safe – from cleaning and sanitising trains and stations, to making it easier to socially distance at stations. So if you are catching our trains for legally permissible reasons, you can travel with confidence.

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“Please remember to wear a face covering -  over your mouth and nose - for all of your journey – including at the station, unless you’re exempt.”

The extra trains will start running a week after Greater Anglia's regulated fares went up by 2.6% - 1% above last July's inflation rate - which put up the cost of season tickets and "walk-up" standard and off-peak tickets.

The rise was steeper than has been the case in recent years when fares have gone up by the July inflation rate - but they were put off by two months - usually they go up on January 1.

But with fewer people travelling, the real impact of season ticket rises will not be felt until commuters start to return to their offices.