Fears for future rail services

A RAIL watchdog has urged passengers to make their voices heard before a decision is taken on who should provide train services across the region in the future.

A RAIL watchdog has urged passengers to make their voices heard before a decision is taken on who should provide train services across the region in the future.

The Mid-Suffolk Travellers' Association is concerned local services in Suffolk and Essex could be scrapped once Anglia Railways' franchise runs out in 2004.

It fears a new train operator may put the majority of its efforts into commuter services in and out of London and allow services in rural and semi-rural areas to become run down.

As a result members are calling for rail users to attend a meeting of the Rail Passenger Committee (RPC) East in Colchester this week to put their views across on what services need to be provided in the region.


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The committee can then influence the views of the Strategic Rail Authority, which will decide which of the bidders to award the franchise to.

Association secretary Dick Flower said: "We are trying to get as many of our members and other rail users along as we can. The RPC is seeking rail users' ideas about what is going to be required from the new franchise.

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"We have got reservations about the new franchise because we do not want our local rail services to suffer. We have done very well under Anglia – they have worked hard and improved all our local services, with more improvements to come, especially between Ipswich and Cambridge.

"When the new franchise comes in it could be dominated by commuter traffic going in and out of London and we are afraid that our local services will be given a very low priority and will wither.

"The money could be spent where the bulk of travellers are and the rest of us left out in the cold."

Mr Flower added that the association hoped the Strategic Rail Authority would include guarantees safeguarding services into the contract of the new franchise.

At the moment two companies, GB Railways _ owner of Anglia Railways _ and First Group are bidding for to run rail services in East Anglia when the new franchise comes into effect in April 2004.

The RPC meeting will take place on April 9 between 2pm and 4pm at the Rose and Crown Hotel in East Street, Colchester.

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