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From the 'Suffolk Free Press' of Wednesday 10 April 1963
NO B.R. PLAN TO SAVE STOUR VALLEY RAILWAY
N.U.J. and industry join in the fight
Cambridge Area Traffic Manager for British Railways, Mr W. A. G. Suddaby, said last week that he had already had discussions with the Eastern National and Eastern Counties bus companies in broad terms in connection with the proposed withdrawal of services.
He added that when he proceeded in presenting the facts to the Transport Users Consultative Committee, it would be up to him to approach the Stour Valley's private bus concerns too, in order to see what services they could provide and where their services would be inadequate in view of the proposed changes.
The Stour Valley, he said, was strange, in that some parts were well served by buses, but a few were not.
Dr Beeching's report, went on Mr Suddaby, had listed lines which could close with advantage. Once the government had given the go-ahead he had to work up a case but whether this case was good enough for the T.U.C.C. and government in the face of local opposition and possible hardship remained to be seen.
Questioned by the Free Press on the rail-bus suggestion put forward by Sudbury Borough Councillor, Mr R. A. Burn, he said the cost of running these smaller units was little different to that involved with the present two-coach units.
He emphasised it was the provision of track and other facilities which led to most of the cost. Rail-buses would therefore not make a very big contribution in the way of a saving.
In addition the rail-buses had certain disadvantages. They were small units to use at peak times and their parcel capacity was almost negligible.
Asked if he was prepared to make out a case for the retention of any of the lines scheduled for closure - the Beeching report, Mr Suddaby replied: "My answer to that must of course be no".
Concern at the proposed closures has been expressed by Sudbury silk weavers, Vanners and Fennell Bros., whose businessmen use the passenger service from Sudbury to London. If the closure is put into effect, they will have to travel to Colchester or Chelmsford to board a train.
The firm find the passenger-freight service extremely useful for urgent deliveries, which would be slowed down considerably if they did not have the advantage of this system.
Without it, too, Italian companies would be able to deliver more quickly to London by air from Como than Vanners and Fennell could deliver from Sudbury.
Some of the factory's modern machinery arrives in Sudbury in specially sealed rail vans which began their journey at Zurich in Switzerland. This system offers a speedy service and delicate machinery stands a minimum chance of being damaged.
At the factory a reporter was told: "The firm regrets that at a time when it is especially trying to boost exports, which are considerable, and output generally, our industry should be handicapped in such a way, when increased rating on factory premises is a handicap in itself".
The implications in the proposals of the Beeching Report on the reshaping of British Railways are being urgently examined by the Eastern Regional Board for Industry, of which Mr W. W. S. Robertson of Bedford is chairman.
A statement issued on Thursday says that all members of the Board are being invited to submit, if they wish, written observations on the proposals as they affect the region's industrial interests. Additionally local aspects of the subject are to be discussed by the Board's twelve district committees.
In a preliminary study, the Board has noted the problem of the transport of workers living in rural districts to and from the towns in which they are employed; the overcrowding of roads and density of traffic at peak hours and the operation of rural bus services, where demand throughout the day is likely to be unevenly spread.
A number of specialised regional problems of transport methods are also expected to be highlighted, including, for example, the conveyance of bricks in bulk, the selection of main depots for the concentration of freight sundries traffic and 'liner train' services to carry flows of traffic which, though dense, are composed of consignments too small in themselves to justify through train operation.
A senior member of Dr Beeching's staff is being invited to attend the Board's next meeting in May. The Board's views are to be sent to the Ministry of Transport.
Mr H. M. Clover, of W. Armes and Son Ltd., the Sudbury floor covering manufacturers, said he did not think the closure of the Sudbury Station would seriously affect his firm.
Since the closure of the local goods depot all their heavy parcels had been transported to Bury St Edmunds by the railway in a very satisfactory manner.
About 15 to 20 per cent of their small parcels went by passenger train from Sudbury and if these went by road to Bury he would have no objection.
A further protest is being registered locally about the proposed closure of the Stour Valley and other rail passenger services.
West Suffolk Branch of the National Union of Journalists, meeting at Bury St Edmunds last week, decided to write to the Minister of Transport, Dr Beeching and the M.P.s for the Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds divisions.
Their letter says: "This branch, while realising that economies are necessary, wishes to protest against the proposed closure of so many of the country's rail services, particularly in East Anglia, as outlined in Dr Beeching’s plan.
"Apart from being an essential public service, the railways are a vital link in news coverage, both as personal transport and for the dispatch of news copy and pictures.
"Closures would also cause hardship, particularly in rural areas, to young journalists who have to travel long distances to training centres".