Demands for Waveney rail improvments

PUBLISHED: 13:10 15 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:45 06 July 2010

Stephen Pullinger

Calls for improvements to stations on the Ipswich to Lowestoft rail line have been made by the East Suffolk Travellers' Association (Esta).

Calls for improvements to stations on the Ipswich to Lowestoft rail line have been made by the East Suffolk Travellers' Association (Esta).

At a meeting of the group in Halesworth on Saturday, Esta secretary Rod Lock made a plea for the promised enhancements to Beccles station to be implemented as soon as possible.

Other points put to Suffolk County Council included the need for bus/rail co-ordination to be improved at Saxmundham and a communication link established between the train and bus operators at Halesworth - this would reduce the problem of buses to Southwold not always waiting for late running trains.

Guy McGregor, the county council's transport portfolio holder, addressed the meeting and assured members that money for station improvements was available.

He said although the financial outlook for local authorities was grim for the next few years, the council was committed to sustaining and supporting public transport. The budget for that was stable.

He reiterated the council's commitment to invest £1m towards the cost of a passing loop at Beccles - to enable more frequent trains to run - and called on other bodies to contribute as well.

He said: “Whoever is operating our trains must provide an hourly Ipswich - Lowestoft service by 2012 with diesel trains like those operating currently between Lowestoft and London. We are also pressing for half-hourly weekday trains between Lowestoft and Norwich."

The future of Lowestoft station was also discussed, and particularly the report of Esta's 2009 survey of passengers. This had shown that more than 50pc of them walked to or from the station, and so its central position was essential.

Esta's survey also showed that 20pc of passengers were likely to travel less often, if at all, by train if the station were to be moved 450 metres inland.

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