Frustration at delays to planned London-direct trains
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Frustrations have been raised over delays to introducing direct trains to London from East Suffolk towns such as Woodbridge, Saxmundham, Halesworth and Beccles.
Four direct trains a day from Lowestoft to London, along the East Suffolk Line, was a key requirement of the rail franchise awarded to Greater Anglia in 2016.
New bimode electric/diesel trains on local routes were brought in last year - but there is still no timescale for direct London services to be introduced, with bosses now saying there are serious organisational problems to overcome.
Last week, the East Suffolk Travellers' Association expressed disappointment that a through service was not mentioned in the proposed new timetable to come in during December 2021.
Suffolk county councillor Alexander Nicoll leads for the authority on rail issues and said: "It is very frustrating that Greater Anglia has not introduced a through service from the East Suffolk Line to London Liverpool Street per their franchise agreement.
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"The county council does not have responsibility for the railways, but we do understand the valuable role rail plays in connecting our county and beyond and we are committed to working closely with Greater Anglia and Network Rail to ensure that a through service is delivered as quickly as possible."
He added that cabinet member for transport Andrew Reid had written to the company to express the council's concern.
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Although the company's trains would be able to travel direct, officials say there are problems because the four-carriage trains would not have the capacity needed for the number of passengers that would be picked up from stations in Essex - and there is not the space at Ipswich for longer trains.
They feel that while many passengers would welcome the convenience of a through train, the most important issue for most travellers was the fact there was an hourly service - giving them more frequent travel opportunities.