Improvements to Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket train stations as well as faster and more frequent services are on the cards in a new vision for Suffolk’s rail network.
The Suffolk Rail Prospectus sets out a number of priorities to be delivered over the next 20 years and will help shape a new rail franchise, which starts next October.
Cllr Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for roads, transport and planning, said: “A decent rail service is vital to growing our county’s economy, attracting investment, creating jobs and supporting a growing population. It is our ambition to improve rail services and infrastructure, and we will use the priorities contained within this document to make our case to Government and the wider rail industry.”
The council document proposes a half hourly service between Ipswich and Cambridge and a direct hourly service between Ipswich and Peterborough. It also aims for faster journey times to London Liverpool Street, Cambridge, Lowestoft, Peterborough and Norwich.
Improvements have been outlined at Bury rail station including better security and a greater staff presence so toilets and a waiting room can remain open for longer. It also suggests relocating the goods yard, improving waiting room, refreshment and toilet facilities and enhancing the station forecourt.
At Stowmarket, it calls for lifts to provide access between platforms, toilets to be located on platform one and two trains per hour stopping at Stowmarket.
Other issues addressed:
For areas such as Mildenhall which have no direct access to rail services, the Prospectus suggests introducing a rail-bus link between railway stations and market towns.
At key market town stations including Brandon it suggests part time staff, improved waiting facilities and better accessibility to the station and platforms.
At rural stations such as Elmswell, there should be real time passenger information systems.
At Needham Market station, it notes that currently wheelchair users have to go through a ‘narrow, poorly lit disused cattle tunnel to access the platform they need’. It adds that the Gipsy Lane level crossing provided some access for people with disabilities but it is due to close and Suffolk County Council is ‘working closely with Network Rail to ensure that appropriate infrastructure is put in place to maintain access’.