Safety concerns over small stations

SMALL railway stops in Suffolk are safer than many, but are not immune from problems which have led to numerous stations being labelled a "poor advertisement for this country".

SMALL railway stops in Suffolk are safer than many, but are not immune from problems which have led to numerous stations being labelled a "poor advertisement for this country".

Many smaller stations were described as threatening and poorly-lit places with vandalised facilities and no staff.

Members of the House of Commons' Committee of Public Accounts described the "stark contrast' between modern trains and the network of often dilapidated stations they serve.

Suffolk has many small, unmanned, stations - but compared with halts elsewhere in the country they are reasonably trouble-free according to British Transport Police.

During 2005 the station with the most calls was Derby Road in Ipswich - on the branch line to Felixstowe.

Thee were 23 calls giving that as the location, although the Derby Road section of track includes much more than just the station - it extends from the Spring Road viaduct to the edge of the town.

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Sgt Bob Munn said: “Most of the incidents were trespass, vandalism or anti-social behaviour. There was one assault on a member of the public in November when a passenger's back was snatched.

“But compared with stations elsewhere, it really is very safe here. I am not worried about my wife using Derby Road - and there are stations in the London area where I was working last year where the police do not go with less than three people at a time!”

Committee chairman Edward Leigh said many railway stations were in a "deplorable state'.

He said: "Far too many small and medium-sized stations are threatening places, with poorly lit, graffiti-covered passages and platforms, vandalised facilities and no staff on hand.

"As it is, a large number of Britain's railway stations are a poor advertisement for our country.'

N What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Station facts:

Suffolk has 22 (and a half) railway stations - Newmarket station is on the border with Cambridgeshire.

Only four stations in the county are manned - Ipswich, Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds, and Lowestoft.

The UK has 2,507 railway stations with an average of 90,000 passengers using each of the 28 largest every day.

Network Rail owns most stations, and is responsible for their structural repair and renewal.

It operates 17 of the largest stations and leases the remaining 2,490 stations to 22 train operating companies.

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