Pilot shuttle bus route to be put on for Saffron Walden commuters

LONDON commuters could soon enjoy a more streamlined journey to work after plans for a new shuttle bus service from Saffron Walden to Audley End train station were announced.

Greater Anglia, the firm which took over the East of England rail franchise in February, has confirmed to the Reporter that a trial service will be started in the coming months.

A spokesman for the company said: “We are committed to the trial of a direct bus link between Saffron Walden and Audley End connecting with key train services arriving and departing Audley End station.

“Customers will be kept informed on the progression of these plans and the timescale for their implementation in due course.”

Alan Neville, the firm’s area manager for East Anglia, said the aim was to introduce a “seamless link between Saffron Walden and Audley End”.

The Reporter understands the new service will be targeted at specific trains running at peak times in both the morning and evening, and will help shorten the length of time commuters have to wait at the station.

One commuter, Martin Johnson, who lives in Crabtrees, said anything that helped improve the bus link between Audley End and the town would be welcomed by commuters.

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“If it means there is a more direct connection with the train so that we don’t have to wait around at the station for 10 to 15 minutes then it sounds very positive,” he said.

“Any scheme that is smarter, more integrated and more sustainable because it gets people out of their cars is a good thing.

“If the trial bus link becomes popular and reduces the number of cars on Wenden Road then it should be beneficial both in terms of the environment and in improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians.”

Another resident who makes a regular journey to the capital, Michelle Wheeler, from Newport Road, said one of the problems with the existing service was convenience.

“One of the drawbacks is that you have to have spare change to pay the �1.60 for a single or �2.90 for return,” she said.

“What would be really helpful is if Greater Anglia introduced a season ticket option which linked the buses to the trains to make it easier for commuters.”

Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan Haselhurst also threw his support behind the initiative.

He said: “I am fully supportive of Great Anglia’s promise to put on a trial bus service to Audley End and if it leads to a properly integrated connection then I’m sure it will be welcomed by commuters.”

At present, Viceroy Coaches of Saffron Walden operates services to and from the station between 5.35am and 8.05am in the morning and 6pm until 8.35pm in the evenings.

Manager of the firm, Steve Moore, said the company was in the dark over Great Anglia’s plans and was waiting to see what impact it would have on business.