New hopes for station access

Shots of Needham Market station and the steps leading down from the platform.
Shots of Needham Market station and the steps leading down from the platform.

THE LONG-RUNNING campaign to win improvements to Needham Market railway station so that both platforms can be accessed by the disabled and elderly looks to be back on track again.

It is so difficult for some passengers to get on to the Ipswich-bound platform that they have resorted to travelling the three miles to Stowmarket to board trains there.

At present they have to go down two flights of stairs, through the railway tunnel and up two flights of stairs at the other side,

Needham Market Lib Dem Mid-Suffolk district councillor Wendy Marchant who, with colleague Mike Norris, has renewed the lobby for improvements, said the station could be in line for grant funding.

Cllr Marchant, who also serves on the Suffolk County Council’s rail policy group, said in a report to Needham Market Town Council that she had been told by a combined Network Rail and National Express East Anglia working group that the work needed could qualify for an Access For All grant from the Department of Transport.

This could fund a scheme where the public could access the Ipswich-bound platform by going through the adjacent ‘cattle tunnel’ and having a new footpath to the platform from that side.

News that the platform battle has resumed has delighted campaigner Jennifer Nott who has for many years raised concerns on behalf of disabled groups and individuals.

She says that improved platform access would also make the town more attractive to visitors.

Work is needed now to ascertain the cost of a feasibility study and hold a meeting of interested parties

An NXEA spokesman said: “ We are continuing to work together with our local authority partners to explore opportunities to improve access at Needham Market station.”

The spokesman said that passengers needing assistance to get to the Ipswich-bound platform could ring the advice helpline on 0800 028 2878.

n Rail chaos for commuters – see Page 2.