An award-winning sustainable transport scheme in East Suffolk has been extended to offer car-free access to another of the area’s most popular tourist destinations.
‘Katch’ is a on demand-responsive electric taxi bus service that connects the village of Wickham Market with Wickham Market Station, situated six-and-a-half miles away in Campsea Ashe.
The service, which launched in May 2021, also serves Framlingham Castle, a major Suffolk tourist attraction. It has now been extended further to include another local highlight, Snape Maltings.
With its converted Victorian buildings, Snape Maltings is an arts, retail, and heritage site on the banks of the River Alde. It 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, with support from East Suffolk Council, Framlingham Town Council, Wickham Market Parish Council, East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, Community Rail Network, and Greater Anglia.
The project 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.
The East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership secured a £7,700 grant to fund the installation of electric vehicle charging points for Katch buses to use at Wickham Market Station. The extended route means that the shared taxi buses now serve Framlingham, Wickham Market, Wickham Market Railway Station, Tunstall, Snape Maltings, and Snape.
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.”