Colchester link for Sudbury in new rail deal
Sudbury’s branch line to Marks Tey is to connect with the main line as new hybrid trains allow for direct services to Colchester.
Abellio Great Anglia has won a £1.4bn nine-year contract to run rail services in the region and as part of the bid has promised all new rolling stock.
These include hybrid electric/diesel trains that will allow for direct access to Colchester town centre from Sudbury and the stations on the branch line.
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, who has campaigned for an improved and more reliable service on the line, has expressed his delight at the announcement, describing it as ambitious and more than he had expected.
“It is really good for people wanting to commute to Colchester or go shopping,” he said.
“On the main line there will be a faster service, there will be free WiFi and the service should be more reliable.
“There are so many benefits, we will be less vulnerable to ‘leafgate’ as the new trains will be much less likely to break down and if they do the trains will be much easier to replace.”
The improvements also include more seats, however, it has been announced that there is likely to be a 1.9 per cent price rise for tickets, while there has been no announcement of any changes to improve access at Marks Tey.
“The price rise will be frustrating but this is a very extensive and quality upgrade and the value add will be huge,” said Mr Cartlidge.
“It wouldn’t have been acceptable if there were price rises with no improvements.”
Mr Cartlidge said the promise of flexible season tickets was promising.
He added that the bid would have been nearly perfect if there had been the improvements in Marks Tey included.
Last year a campaign was set up asking for a lift on the bridge to allow disabled passengers and those with push chairs or heavy luggage to cross over the line to change platforms.
Mr Cartlidge also said the level of investment meant it was very unlikely for any direct link to London in the short-term, but said he was still surprised to see so many improvements in such a short period of time.
The new stock allowing for the connection with Colchester is likely to be put in place in 2020.
When it comes into force Mr Cartlidge said it would be important for allowing workers to access a new area for jobs, adding that if the bid delivered it could provide a large financial boost to the region.