Two of Suffolk’s most popular destinations are now within easy reach of the Greater Anglia rail network.
Katch is a new environmentally-friendly all-electric taxi bus service that launched in May connecting the East Suffolk Line at Wickham Market station with Framlingham Castle. It has now been extended to include Snape Maltings – the arts, retail, and heritage site on the banks of the River Alde.
With its converted Victorian buildings, Snape Maltings is home to independent shops and galleries and several performance venues, including the world-famous Snape Maltings Concert Hall.
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.
Katch 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.
Katch is an on-demand travel solution for both residents and visitors in Wickham Market and Framlingham, as well as enabling people using the rail network to book the taxi bus for a journey to Snape Maltings from Wickham Market railway station in Campsea Ashe.
It uses electric vehicles operating as shared taxi buses serving Framlingham – Wickham Market – Wickham Market Railway Station (at Campsea Ashe) – Tunstall – Snape Maltings – Snape.
Katch serves fixed bus stops and journeys can be booked on-demand by telephone or via the Katch app. Fares are in line with a bus service and payment can be made by contactless card or cash.
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 the electric vehicles at Wickham Market train station where Katch is based.
Councillor Alexander Nicoll, Suffolk County Council’s Deputy Cabinet Member for Transport Strategy and county councillor for the Wickham division (covering Wickham Market and Campsea Ashe) said: “I am delighted Katch is now able to help people visit Snape Maltings, which is such a popular arts and heritage destination.
“It is only by making public transport a viable alternative for all in our county that we will get more people to leave their cars at home, which will play a big part in our efforts to reduce vehicle emissions and cut carbon.
“Katch is also part of our wider strategy to help, especially rural, communities with better public transport connections to facilitate work, education and leisure needs.”
Harry Young of Britten Pears Arts, which runs Snape Maltings, said: “We are delighted to be working with Katch to help people from both the local area and further afield to reach Snape Maltings using low carbon transport and without needing a car. We are eager to make the site more accessible to everyone, and to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Aaron Taffera, chair of the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, said, “We were very keen to support the expansion of this service to make it easier for people to access train travel in a rural area; at the same time tourists will now be able to easily visit Snape Maltings in addition to Framlingham Castle using the rail network.
“With rail travel being the third most sustainable form of transport after walking and cycling, a combined journey using the train and Katch will help to cut down on emissions and pollution from car use in our countryside and encourage people back to rail.”
Katch launched on a 12-month trial in May 2021. It is available seven days a week, Monday to Friday 7.50am to 8pm, Saturday 8am to 8pm, Sundays and Bank Holidays 10am to 6pm.
Journeys can be booked up to 30 minutes in advance via the Katch App or telephone by calling 01728 55 44 55.
The cost of a return journey is £7 and a single journey is £4 for an adult or children’s fares are £3 return and £1.50 single.
For further information about Katch visit www.katchalift.com