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More investment sought to increase rail services across West Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 13:00 20 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:01 20 March 2019

Forest Heath councillor Lance Stanbury with his St Edmundsbury colleague Susan Glossop at Bury St Edmunds railway station. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

Forest Heath councillor Lance Stanbury with his St Edmundsbury colleague Susan Glossop at Bury St Edmunds railway station. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

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Councillors in west Suffolk are trying to secure more investment in the area's rail lines to double the number of trains between Cambridge and Ipswich through Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket.

The rail line is single track from Chippenham junction, just east of Newmarket, to the junction with the main line at Cambridge. Picture: ARCHANTThe rail line is single track from Chippenham junction, just east of Newmarket, to the junction with the main line at Cambridge. Picture: ARCHANT

At present there is an hourly service along the line in each direction – but they are hoping to see a half-hourly service introduced when the east-west rail link between Cambridge and Oxford is completed at the end of the next decade.

Some of the trains on that route are expected to continue from Cambridge to Ipswich and Norwich – and it hopes this will increase the service on the route.

Now members of the new West Suffolk Council, which is being created from the merger of St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath next month, are pressing for an increase in services.

Forest Heath cabinet member Lance Stanbury said: “Improving rail links is vital for the continued growth, prosperity and supply of new jobs in West Suffolk.

“The Prospectus has demonstrated that a direct rail link between Ipswich, Norwich and Oxford would unlock £17.5bn for the East Anglian economy and create 120,000 jobs across East Anglia, connecting high value economies in key growth locations in Suffolk and Norfolk with those in places such as Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Aylesbury and Oxford.

“West Suffolk would benefit by these improvements including more frequent services for Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds.”

As well as new trains, a doubling of the service would require more double track to be laid between Newmarket and Cambridge which is currently a single line – and an expansion of Haughley junction where the cross-country line meets the main route between Ipswich and Norwich.

Bury St Edmunds would then be served by three trains an hour linking the town with Ipswich and London because an hourly service is due to be introduced between Ipswich and Peterborough as part of the Greater Anglia franchise agreement.

According to the Office of Road and Rail over the last 10 years passenger numbers Newmarket station have increased by 54% and at Bury St Edmunds have gone up by 36% – and with increased growth proposed for both towns the number of travellers is expected to continue to grow.

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