Category Archives: Rail

The rail service in Woodbridge

Sizewell C Consultation

This is the last day to put in a response to EDF’s Sizewell C Stage 1 Consultation.  The consultation doesn’t allow for any debate on  whether we should have a new Nuclear power station at Sizewell.  It deals solely with the practicalities of  Sizewell C’s  construction and its impact on those of us who live in its path.

And there will be an impact, no two ways about itCurrently it looks like being an impact with very little benefit to us residents of Suffolk Coastal. 

Particularly  worrying  for Woodbridge residents would be the impact of a works Park & Ride and Lorry Park at Woods Lane. I’ve therefore sent EDF this response on behalf of all those who have raised concerns with me:

      Re: SIZEWELL C Stage 1 CONSULTATION

In responding to this consultation, I am writing as elected County Councillor for Woodbridge to raise concerns specific to my division. I am also responding more generally as Suffolk Lib Dem spokesman for Transport. I am restricting my comments to the period of construction as it is the impact of this that is specifically being consulted upon.

        Overall   These plans offer only the most cursory and non-holistic reference to the heritage nature of the Suffolk coastal landscape – and to the impact that the lengthy period of construction will have on both the landscape and the lifestyle that residents currently enjoy.

The benefits of Sizewell C will be to the country as a whole. It would seem inappropriate that the impact should be felt so disproportionately by the 0.2% of the population (124,000 people) who make up the population of Suffolk Coastal. The question that comes to mind (in the vernacular) is, “What’s in it for us?”

        Transport   At its peak the construction workforce is expected to be 5600 people, 34% of whom will commute. This will put nearly 2,000 more daily commuters on the overcrowded A12. Although much freight will be by rail/sea , EDF currently forecasts 100-300 more HGV deliveries (I read this as 200-600 HGV journeys) daily on the A12 in the years of peak construction. EDF would prefer to manage this via a lorry park at the Southern P&R.

Commuter traffic    EDF claims that the construction of North and South Park & Rides could ‘significantly reduce the amount of commuter traffic on local roads’ during the peak years of construction. This is not strictly accurate:  the best they are designed for is to ameliorate some of the excess that the construction of SizewellC will put upon our roads! There is no reference in the consultation to these P&Rs serving our local commuters.

And even within this limited definition of a ‘significant reduction’, the Park & Rides – wherever they are placed – will not ameliorate the increased levels of traffic arriving and departing from them.

In the case of Woodbridge, the proposed Southern P&R option C  is at the already busy roundabout at the A1152/A12 junction, north of the town.  It would therefore not ameliorate the increased levels of traffic that would need to pass Woodbridge.  At the same time a P&R there would add considerably to the congestion, pollution and rat-running that are already a problem here as traffic seeks to avoid the bottle-neck at the A1152/A12 junction.

Although the Southern P&R option C  would be on the A12, it would have a significant impact on  Woodbridge residents in terms of increased noise, light and environmental pollution – particularly for  those living in the Farlingaye ward .

It would also have an adverse impact on the 2000-odd students who attend Woodbridge’s Farlingaye High School. With a catchment area of 400sqm of Suffolk Coastal, and school bus access  directly from the A12 and close to the A1152 junction, congestion at peak times is likely to conflict with school drop-off and delivery.

Lorry Park  It is clear that EDF expects that most lorry traffic will be travelling northward to the site, past Woodbridge. A lorry park at Option C would exacerbate all the problems mentioned above, regarding commuter traffic.  Woodbridge would suffer the double whammy of both the increase in HGV traffic and the lorry park while gaining no identified benefit from either.

 Rail   The A1152 crosses the East Suffolk line at an open crossing at Melton. A recent upgrade in the service to hourly passenger trains is already increasing congestion at this point (and rat-running through Woodbridge). Sizewell C development proposes to transport significant amounts of construction materials by train which is to be welcomed. However it will further exacerbate crossing delays and congestion and add to the potential problems of rat-running through Woodbridge.

        Conclusion     The proposals for building Sizewell C will have a great impact on the Suffolk Coastal region. This is because they are reliant on one single north/south axis in both road and rail provision.   As yet it is far from clear that that EDF’s proposals fully recognize and allow for this impact: it seems instead as if the A12 is being seen as one giant corridor to Sizewell – with little concern for the communities that line it.

The strategic geographical position of Woodbridge, sandwiched between A12 and East Suffolk line, means that the impact might be felt most keenly by its 7500 inhabitants, particularly if the Southern P&R option C is decided upon. This would bring many disadvantages to our town without one single clear advantage.  There is no incentive or reason for us to support it.

I would recommend that, before the next consultation, EDF look again – and more closely – at significant investment in Rail improvements. That is, not only at increasing enhancements to the East Suffolk line, but also at building bridges at rail crossings to allow more freight to be moved by rail while reducing the impact on road crossing users.

As regards siting the Lorry Parks and Park and Rides, EDF should be looking at areas where there would be minimal disruption to and impact on communities AND landscape. This clearly rules out the current proposals for Southern P&R option C at Woodbridge

Finally, I am deeply disappointed that it is proposed  the residents of east Suffolk should bear such a high degree of inconvenience over so many years for the good of the nation at large without any substantive mention of a reasonable payback. We need bridges over the A12 where footpaths have been cut in two. We need bridges over the East Suffolk line, where commuters currently wait in traffic jams. We need decent public transport for huge swathes of the rural population.  All these needs could be addressed with little extra cost if EDF considered them as part of a holistic plan for the development of Sizewell C.

I hope you will take these comments back and consider them seriously in your ongoing deliberations

Yours sincerely    

Caroline Page

 

What’s Happening at SCC : December 2012

Preparing for Winter : Gritbins With the first of the winter cold on the way, I have been using my locality budget to fund 4 further grit bins in areas of Woodbridge that still require them: Millview Close/Naunton Road, Peterhouse Crescent, Nelson Way and Barton Road. If you know of any other areas that still might need covering –and if there is at least one volunteer prepared to grit – I still have locality money for the purpose.

New Greater Anglia hourly service Lowestoft-Ipswich This started on 9 December. I travelled on the opening train of this service along with other County, SCDC and Town and Parish Councillors and took the opportunity to ask Greater Anglia Customer Service Director Andrew Goodrum about proposed ticket machines at Woodbridge station.

You will be pleased to know there is absolutely no need to lobby for these as they have been purchased a while back. (They are not yet installed as they need weatherproofing because they are designed for indoor use.)

However, as a frequent traveller on the Network I alerted Mr Goodrum about the difficulty of purchasing that most invaluable of Greater Eastern discount tickets – a Day Ranger – at the Ipswich ticket machines, and he undertook to make sure that this would be remedied both here and at Ipswich.

Cabinet:   Today, the SCC Cabinet will be discussing a range of matters including –

  • whether to enhance Suffolk’s Concessionary Fares further – as a result of the consultation after the last Lib Dem call in. This long running saganhas now notched up yet another level of intensity after the Equality and Human Rights Commission wrote to CEO Deborah Cadman to complain about SCC’s initial poor level of consultation, and the fact there had been no initial Equal Impact Assessment. It has asked to have written notification of the outcome of today’s meeting
  • Procurement of Highways services – and decide formally whether to award the contract to Balfour Beatty.
  • Suffolk Rail Strategy – creation of a rail prospectus for Suffolk which is aiming for hourly services between Ipswich and Peterborough, and new inter-city rolling stock.

Council Budget – Round 1:   At the end of November, the County Council announced the first version of the 2013 budget. This was discussed and questioned at the recent Scrutiny Committee.

This year will see a further reduction of £24.9m, as part of a two year programme to reduce the budget by just over £50m. As seen last year, many of the services are looking to efficiencies rather than specific service cuts, however the Lib Dems are extremely concerned that these reductions will hide damage to the County’s frontline services. Aongst the most concerning are that there will be a significant reduction in Adult and Community Services of £7m, and another reduction of £2.5m in Children and Young People’s services. There are both areas which have significant pressures, and help to protect the vulnerable in our community. The Lib Dems are very concerned that the continual savings being sought in these areas will impact on those people we need to help.

There is also a significant concern about the number of services that are currently divested, and questions about how these contracts will be monitored, and whether us as Councillors will be able to scrutinise the services that the public are paying for.

I will continue to keep you updated as to the latest news regarding the budget for 2013 as the process continues.

Surgery:   My last surgery of the year will be on December 15th, 10-12 at the Library as ever. If you are lucky, there might even be mince-pies

East Suffolk Line – all change at last

Longterm champions of sustainable travel:                      Suffolk Coastal District/Woodbridge Town Councillor Diana Ball and Suffolk County Councillor Caroline Page board the first hourly East Suffolk Line train from Lowestoft as it reaches Woodbridge.

 

Today is the first day of the hourly rail service along the East Suffolk line – ensuring regular reliable rail travel between Ipswich and Lowestoft. This will make such a difference!
Now what we need is to have a fully integrated bus service to meet it. Oh, and decent provision for bicycles – particularly when the rail service is replaced by buses