The introduction of a new all-electric environmentally friendly taxi bus service that connects rural communities with Wickham Market rail station has been recognised with a national award.
Project partners including Suffolk County Council and the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership received the ‘Influencing Positive Change and Sustainability’ award at the national Community Rail Awards for the innovative new Katch service.
The service launched in May connecting Wickham Market rail station to Framlingham, and was recently extended to Snape.
Katch is led by Suffolk County Council in partnership with CarsSmart, and with support from East Suffolk Council, Framlingham Town Council, Wickham Market Parish Council, Community Rail Network, East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership and Greater Anglia.
It helps deliver on the commitment Suffolk councils have made to grow the region’s passenger transport in a sustainable way and plays a part in cutting carbon to help reach the Government’s ambition of zero emissions by 2050 and Suffolk County Council’s own target of being carbon neutral by 2030.
It uses electric vehicles operating as shared taxi buses serving Framlingham – Wickham Market – Wickham Market Railway Station – Tunstall – Snape Maltings – Snape.
The East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership and Community Rail Network Development Fund from the Department of Transport provided a £7700 grant to fund the installation of electric vehicle charging points for Katch buses to use at Wickham Market train station at Campsea Ashe.
Aaron Taffera, Chair of the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, said, “I’m delighted that this project has been recognised for making a real difference to some of our rural Suffolk communities and for its sustainable credentials, which is helping people to travel and visit the area in an environmentally friendly way.”
Councillor Alexander Nicoll, Suffolk County Council’s Deputy Cabinet Member for Transport Strategy said,
“This award for Katch is well-deserved recognition of the hard work, led by Suffolk County Council in partnership with others, to create the service as a new and green travel solution for people in a largely rural area and offers an alternative to private car use.”
The Community Rail Awards recognise the crucial and often unsung work carried out by community rail partnerships, station friends’ volunteers and community groups, in areas such as community and youth engagement, community-led station development, promoting diversity and inclusion, and influencing positive change and sustainable development.
Alan Neville, Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, said, “We are really proud of our community rail partnerships and are thrilled that the work that they do across the region to support communities, promote sustainable travel and help our region’s branch lines to thrive has been recognised at these national awards.”
Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “The Community Rail Awards give deserved recognition to community rail volunteers and partnerships across Britain.
“Despite another challenging year, the array of entries defied expectations, showing how community rail adapted and responded, supporting communities through the pandemic, maintaining positivity, and continuing to help people get the most from local railways and stations. Huge congratulations to all our winners, and thanks to all who support community rail, as this grassroots movement continues to go from strength to strength.”
Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “Our railway offers a vital lifeline for local communities across the UK who depend on it for access to jobs and opportunities, to connect with friends and families, and experience everything the UK has to offer.
“These awards recognise those community rail partners and volunteers that go above and beyond, making a real difference to those that use our rail network, as well as neighbouring communities. I’d like to extend my heartfelt congratulations and gratitude to this year’s winners and finalists for all their work.”