Felixstowe Travel Watch's overall objective - the reason we exist - is to promote the use of public transport. From time to time we focus our attention and efforts on specific issues giving more or less priority on these as the situation demands. Of course there will always be a debate about what issues are more important - that will depend on individuals' priorities.
It almost goes without saying, that the three top priorities revealed in all public transport customer surveys are -
A. Punctuality of the trains and buses (which includes those non running cancellations!)
B. Fares /Tickets - level and complexity, the last point particularly applies to train journeys
C. Age and cleanliness of the trains and buses
But there are lots of other public transport issues, and these are some of them that we are working on now. We shall be interested to know if you agree or would you suggest other more important or urgent subjects? Please send any comments to our Vice-Chairman (and website editor) - Richard Holland - firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Dualling the Felixstowe to Ipswich rail line to provide capacity for both passenger and freight traffic. What more needs to be said on this issue? See also the page headed Line Improvement Plan
2. Bus Replacement Route - obviously we are not happy when the train service is cancelled and replaced by a bus/coach. The installation of permanent Rail Replacement "flags" (signs) adjacent to Felixstowe Station, on the High Road at the junction with Station Road in Trimley and close to Derby Road Station give the impression that Greater Anglia think that rail replacement bus service will be a permanent feature of our line. Not very encouraging. Parking a "stand-by" coach at Ipswich station also gives the impression that RR service is here to stay. There have been instances of coach drivers having to ask passengers for directions to find the stations !!!
3. Season Ticket refunds Holders of annual (rail) season tickets really lose out if the train is cancelled and the ticket holder opts to travel into Ipswich by First Bus. Bus fare is £3.30 but the maximum refund from Greater Anglia is about just £1.50, based on a rather complicated formula.
4. Super-store Felixstowe station site. The pros and cons of a super-store are outside our remit, but we took a keen interest in how that development may affect the station. What effect will the traffic flow to/from the store have on access to and from the station, car and taxi parking adjacent to the station, rail replacement bus/coach parking and turning circles, and much more. But as every year ticks by with no sign of activity, we wonder if anything will ever happen here?
5. Rail Ticket Vending machines. Were installed at stations on the East Suffolk (Ipswich/Lowestoft) line and now we have one at Felixstowe. "Why install ticket vending machines" ? Our Felixstowe/Ipswich line is and we hope will always remain a "No Penalty Fare Zone" so you can board the train and buy a ticket from the conductor, no compulsion to use the ticket vending machine. So why bother? The benefit will be that as more passengers hold a valid ticket on boarding the train, it will reduce the work-load of the train conductor, which will allow the conductor to get to all passengers to check their ticket or sell one. Conductors will also be able to give more time and assistance serving passengers who want a slighly more complicated ticket rather than a "single or return to Ipswich". See also campaign item 7 below
6. New Medical Centre (relocation of Central Surgery) As with item 4 above the pros and cons of this were outside our remit except that we were very concerned about access to and from by bus. We thought it was expecting too much for elderly / infirm / unwell people to walk from Great Eastern Square to the far end of Beatrice Avenue and back (which also includes crossing two busy roads), but described in a Central Surgery Practice newsletter as "the short extra distance from the town centre". Thanks in no small part to intensive lobbying by Felixstowe Travel Watch, from May 2013, First Bus changed the route of service no. 76 to go to the far end of Beatrice Avenue - but that is just one bus an hour compared to four an hour stopping at Great Eastern Square. supplementing the Suffolk County Council sponsored service nos 173/4, (the smaller green Ipswich Bus operated vehicles just four every day) running between the town centre and the top of Beatrice Avenue. To see the information leaflet produced by FTW and distributed by the surgery click here.
7. Fare dodgers! We can't help but notice that some people know how to get a free ride to Derby Road station. Just get on the front of the train and hope that the conductor starts working from the back and doesn't start taking fares until the train has left Felixstowe. With luck you can nip off the front of the train at Derby Road before the conductor gets to you. Its so obvious that you would think Greater Anglia would be onto it - and we keep telling them. Its just not fair to paying passengers, but also distorts the passenger number counts as well as income figures.
8. What's going on! - Greater Anglia passenger information systems Most reasonable passengers realise that running a rail company is a bit complicated and things do go wrong. Its not GA's fault if a car hits a rail road bridge or thieves pinch a bit of cable, or if Network Rail (who do all the track and signalling work) have a fault or problem. But what really annoys passengers is when something goes wrong and no-one in authority can tell you what's happening or say how long the problem will last. The overseas call centre staff don't see to have much idea where somewhere like Trimley is, never mind telling you what's gone wrong. A classic example was a prime evening commuter train from Ipswich to Felixstowe being cancelled, passengers waiting an hour for the next one, only for that to be cancelled as well - with no Greater Anglia staff on hand to help and no sign of a bus replacement service. We are constantly asking Greater Anglia for a UK (East Anglia?) based phone help-line or better display screens or platform staff who can tell you more than the information which passengers can read for themselves from a website.
9. Ipswich train station waiting rooms and booking hall - It is good to see the new booking hall with inside seating but the waiting room by Platform 1 is a bit grim tucked away behind the cycle storage area.