October 24 2014 Latest news:
Emma Brennan, West Suffolk chief reporter
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Concerns have been raised about the “viability” of the Sudbury to London rail service after a connecting train left Marks Tey station while passengers were still on a footbridge trying to get to the platform.
Transport links to and from the west Suffolk market town have come under the spotlight again in recent months with renewed calls for improved road links and a direct rail line from Sudbury to the capital.
The latest issue with the Sudbury to London service, which requires passengers to change trains at Marks Tey, has been highlighted by South Suffolk Conservative parliamentary candidate James Cartlidge.
He was on his way to visit his 80-year-old father in Cheshire, via Euston, when the incident happened.
Mr Cartlidge said: “I took the 5.32pm from Sudbury and, like the rest of the passengers, was surprised when I got out at Marks Tey and started to ascend the bridge over to the London line only to see the main line connecting train pulling out of the station.
“The driver knew there were passengers on the bridge coming over who were just seconds away but he didn’t wait.
“I then had to wait half an hour for the next service and missed the train I was booked on out of Euston. The other passengers, some of whom were elderly, were really annoyed and upset.”
Mr Cartlidge said he was told by a member of Greater Anglia staff that a new directive had been issued instructing drivers not to hold the main line service at Marks Tey if the Sudbury line train was delayed.
As it stands, gaps between connecting trains can be as little as four minutes and Mr Cartlidge has written to Abellio Greater Anglia’s chief executive asking for reassurances.
He added: “If an elderly person or family with a buggy and children are taking longer to cross the bridge, are we saying that rather than hold the doors on the London train a bit longer, they will be shut without sparing a second?
“Also, a large number of commuters living in Sudbury and the surrounding villages rely on this service.
“If the trains are not guaranteed to connect, then Sudbury is nothing more than a branch line and cannot be seen as a viable intercity service.”
An Abellio Greater Anglia spokeswoman said they were sorry Mr Cartlidge had missed his connection.
She also said there had been no new directive relating to connections at Mark Tey.
She added: “The performance of the Sudbury line is usually very reliable with a moving annual average of 94.8% putting it well above the national average and so connections are normally made at Marks Tey.
“The timetable and connection times are long established, taking into account the interchange from one service to another.
“However, we thank the customer for their feedback and we will continue to monitor the situation.”