The Anonymous Widower

Bury St. Edmunds: A Town With Dreadful Rail Access

If you need to go to Bury St. Edmunds by train from London, it is usually a cross-platform change every hour at Ipswich station.

It is actually, a journey that will get better in the next couple of years, because Greater Anglia are doing the following.

  • Introducing new Class 745 trains between Liverpool Street and Ipswich
  • Running three express trains per hour (tph) between Liverpool Street and Ipswich
  • Reducing Liverpool Street to Ipswich times to sixty minutes.
  • Introducing new Class 755 trains between Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds.
  • Running two tph between Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds.

Journeys will get more frequent and there will be more seats.

A quick calculation on Greater Anglia’s non-electrified routes gives the following.

  • They are currently served by a total of thirty-two coaches in excellent trains like Class 170 trains and twenty-nine coaches in scrapyard specials.
  • They will be replaced by a total of fourteen three-car and twenty-four four-car bi-mode Class 755 trains consisting of a total of one hundred and thirty-eight coaches.

That is a 4.3 to 1 increase, so you can’t accuse Greater Anglia of not making a generous promise.

Greater Anglia have not disclose much about their plans, but I would suspect that they could include.

  • At least two tph on as many routes as possible.
  • A much improved service between Bury St. Edmunds and Cambridge.
  • More services at Cambridge North station.
  • Direct services between Bury St. Edmunds and London.

They’ve certainly got the trains for a major expansion of services and stations like Cambridge, Cambridge North, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich are excellent transport hubs.

But stations like Bury St. Edmunds let the others down and don’t provide the service passengers expect.

I think to quote any optimistic Estate Agent, it is a building with possibilities.


  • I suspect that Greater Anglia wish the track and platform layout was more train operator friendly.
  • There is a cafe on the Ipswich-bound platform.
  • Facilities are limited.
  • The only shop is a barbers.
  • Car parking is limited.
  • The town centre and the bus station is a stiff walk away.
  • There is no shuttle bus to the town centre.
  • It is a Grade II Listed building.

For a town of 40,000 people it is a disgrace.

Improving Access To Trains

I’ve read in several places that Cambridge and Greater Anglia would like to create a frequent service between Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds with several new stations, to help in the development of Greater Cambridge.

For example, a simple triangular route could be run between Cambridge, Ely and Bury St. Edmunds.

To do this efficiently would probably need a West-facing bay platform at the station.

But as this Google Map shows, that would be difficult.

It might be possible to split one or both platforms, as happens at Cambridge.

When you consider, that the space in the middle of the platforms, is large enough for at least one extra track, I’m sure Network Rail have ideas to create a more usable station without spending an enormous amount.

One thing that surely helps, is that it is unlikely that many trains will be longer than four-cars.








July 25, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , ,

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