Community delight as Fenland village wins battle for improved rail services to Ely, Peterborough and Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 13:13 25 September 2013 | UPDATED: 13:13 25 September 2013
A Fenland village is preparing to become a commuter hotspot after winning a long-running battle to persuade Greater Anglia to give them a two-hourly service to Peterborough, Ely and Ipswich.
Manea will benefit from the new service because of the completion of work at Peterborough station over Christmas.
Steve Emery, chairman of Manea Parish Council, was delighted.
He said: “This will provide significant benefits not only to those living in Manea but also to other people living in Fenland who will now be able to access rail services without needing to travel to a station further afield.
“This arrangement – through providing greater access to centres of employment, leisure activities and shopping – will enhance the quality of life of the local community both economically and socially.”
Great Anglia partnerships manager Geraint Hughes said: “For a long time we have wanted to respond to the villagers’ request for an improved rail service.
“With the completion of a key stage of Network Rail’s improvement works at Peterborough station due to be completed over the Christmas period, we can now retime our service to include the stop at Manea.”
Ralph Butcher, cabinet member for transport at Fenland District Council, said: “This is excellent news and an important confirmation of all the effort that everyone has made. This is a terrific example of how working together achieves success”
Mr Butcher said: “Fenland District Council has been working in partnership with Manea Parish Council and Greater Anglia on railway related matters for some time, and we have had strong support from the local community, who really want more trains to stop at their local station.”
He added: “The Fenland Rail Development Strategy 2011 - 2031 is an important part of the council’s integrated transport approach. A two-hourly train service for Manea is a key commitment in the strategy. I am extremely pleased that we will be able to deliver a key priority so early in the life of the strategy.”
A package of possible improvements to Manea station, as part of Fenland District Council’s rail strategy, will now be discussed. These may include a station car park, improved waiting accommodation, better information and extending the platforms.
Mr Hughes said villagers will be asked for their views before Fenland District Council confirms its master plan for the station.
Manea station is currently managed by Greater Anglia but the limited service of two trains a day in each direction is provided by Cross-Country Trains.
Greater Anglia runs a two-hourly service each day between Ipswich and Peterborough, also serving Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds, Ely, March and Whittlesey. From January, these trains will also call at Manea on Mondays – Saturdays.
Mr Hughes said that at present, because of problems of platform capacity at Peterborough station, there is insufficient time for the trains to call at Manea.
“From January, this problem will be resolved, as Network Rail opens a new island platform as part of its major package of works at Peterborough station,” he explained.
Steve Barclay, MP for NE Cambs, has been at the heart of the campaign for improved rail services across the Fens.
He believes that a new bus shuttle service between Chatteris and Manea could help residents access local trains.
“Few trains currently stop at Manea station,” he said earlier this year. “Chatteris has no rail station at all. There is also no direct bus between Chatteris and Manea station – instead you have to go to March and change bus there. A direct airport style bus shuttle could help address these transport issues.”
Full details of the timetable for Manea and the date of introduction of the service, will be confirmed after further discussions with Network Rail.
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