All aboard! Mid Suffolk gives green light to new community rail partnership

Mid Suffolk councillors have backed the introduction of a community rail partnership in the district.

Rail passengers in Mid Suffolk are on track to see improvements to their local stations, after councillors backed the introduction of a community rail partnership (CRP).

A CRP is an association comprised of the railway industry, local councils and the voluntary sector, working together to try to increase passenger numbers by promoting economic development, community engagement and sustainable travel.

Across the Greater Anglia region, there are nine CRPs currently in operation, but the Ipswich to Cambridge line, which runs through the district, is yet to benefit from the scheme.

Now, however, residents in and around Thurston, Elmswell, Stowmarket and Needham Market may be set to benefit from much-needed attention and investment to their local stations, after councillors at last month’s meeting of Mid Suffolk District Council voted unanimously to support the creation of a CRP by Greater Anglia.

The establishment of the CRP and funding from Greater Anglia would open the door for the partnerships and projects focusing on accessibility, mental health, exclusion and isolation, and general station improvements through murals or floral displays.

Cllr Jen Overett, ward councillor for Elmswell and Woolpit, who proposed the motion, said: “The Ipswich to Cambridge line is used by thousands of passengers every day and setting up a community rail partnership will help to encourage more people to use the service, making our railway stations a much stronger part of our communities.

“Taking the train is a very sustainable way of travelling and we want to help our residents reduce their carbon footprints – so it’s about time we in Mid Suffolk got involved in a partnership like this one.

“It won’t be a quick fix for all the issues that our railway lines face, but it will give us a much louder voice at the table and ensure that our council has a greater say in the future of rail travel in our area.”

The Mid Suffolk District Council Meeting on 25 January 2024 can be viewed on YouTube here. Discussion starts at 2:54:00. 28 councillors voted in favour, zero voted against and there were zero abstentions.

Railway stations at Needham Market, Stowmarket, Thurston and Elmswell.