Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Eastern- Cambridge review 1

1/6/07 Cambridge to Ipswich
Weather: Hot and sunny
Traction: 1 car DMU Sprinter
Dept: Cambridge 1543
Arrive: Ipswich

Cambridge gives the air of a station that has seen its glory days in the distant past. It's more of a terminus for suburban commuter trains from both Kings Cross and Liverpool Street. There are some through trains to King's Lynn and Birmingham, but none of them are loco-hauled anymore. There's only one main platform and even this is split into two different platforms. Platform 1 is at the south end and is for London trains. Whilst platform 4 is at the north end and is for trains going to King's Lynn and Peterborough. There's four other bay platforms, where trains for Norwich, Ipswich and London depart from. Opposite the main platform are lots of sidings, but they're all empty. There is one Central trains 2-car unit stable just north of the station.

We leave on time and our train is about three quarters full. We go past the carriage sidings north east of the station and then leave the Ely line to go east. Our train stops at every station, except for Kennett. As we move away from Cambridge, we pass various hi-tec looking factories and many new housing estates, giving the impression that Cambridge is booming. In fact it is a good fifteen minutes before we are clear of the Cambridge urban sprawl. It's single track all the way to the junction with the Norwich mainline. We speed up eventually, but the train keeps hitting overhead branches every so often. The countryside is fairly flat here, though there are some hills in the distance. We pass under the A11? then past the disused station of ? It looks like it used to be two tracks here. Then we slow down for Dillington? It has two platforms, but we come in on the up platform. It has a signal box but no station buildings and is unmanned. An old railway track - now a walkway - passes over? us soon after. The scenery is more hilly here, but we slow down as we approach Newmarket. The original station building is still there, but it looks like it is used for offices and the windows have grills on them. There are two shelters for passengers on the two platforms? There is lots of new housing surrounding the station. We then enter a tunnel which is quite long and then pass a stables, which indicates that we are in horse racing land. We slow down for Coppenham Junction ?where there is a signal box and then we move onto two tracks again

We pass a horse racing track on the right, but it is just a practice one. The A14 runs parallel to us on the left before moving away and then it becomes the A11. We go into another tunnel, but it is actually the A14 going over us. We rush through Kennet station, which is just a small station with a signal box. We go the fastest ever now on our journey reaching 70-80 mph. Light industry appears as we slow down for Bury St Edmunds There are some sidings on the right, but they are empty. Junction from Ely? before we arrive at Bury St Edmunds station. There were once four tracks going through the station, but the two middle ones have been lifted. The original station building is impressive, though many of the windows are boarded up. You get a nice view over the town. As we leave BSE we go past the large Sugar Beet factory that dominates the skyline and whose smell you get up your nose! The trains struggles a little here as there is a short climb. I notice that the old semaphores have gone and its electronic signallling from now on.