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Talking benches will welcome back passengers at Essex rail stations

Installation of a talking bench at Braintree Station

A project to install ‘talking benches’ at rail stations in Essex will offer people information about the local area as they wait for trains. The innovative benches have been installed at Alresford, Braintree, and Manningtree, with Manningtree the first station in the country to receive one.

The talking benches feature a button which, when pressed, tells the story of the area and will provide interest to those waiting for trains – but is also aimed at tackling social isolation and loneliness by helping to provide a place for people to connect and chat.

The project has been funded by the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership and Community Rail Network, who have worked with Greater Anglia’s Asset Management Team to carry out the installations.

Jayne Summer, rail engagement manager at the CRP said: “We hope these new benches get people talking and bring people together now that restrictions are starting to ease. The benches not only provide useful information but are also intended to help tackle loneliness by providing somewhere to sit and chat.”

Greater Anglia’s community and customer engagement manager, Alan Neville, added: “This is a wonderful project which will play its part in attracting people back to rail after Covid by providing useful information on days out by train and what there is to see and do locally, helping to boost tourism as part of the green recovery.”