Our postponed 2023 AGM was held on Saturday 23rd March at the Friends Meeting House, Bury St Edmunds and we are delighted to report that Ross Taylor was unanimously elected as our new chair. Ross has served on our committee in the past but in recent years worked as part of Bury St Edmunds' station staff. Now retired, he has agreed to step into the shoes of the much-missed John Drake.

Guest speaker Alan Neville, Customer Engagement Manager at Greater Anglia, provided some encouraging news about our line, including the big increase in passenger numbers since the pandemic, the long awaited Community Rail Partnership and planned developments and possibilities on our route. More details will follow. Earlier AGM reports can be found below.

The date of our next committee meeting will be held on Saturday 27th April 2024, starting at 10.30am. Anyone is welcome to join the meetings, but please contact the Secretary beforehand on 07309 650429 or secretary@marpa.org.uk, to confirm the venue.

Our spring newsletter is now available to read - click here to view the PDF (3Mb).

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Earlier newsletters are available - see below.

Please take a look at - and follow - our X/Twitter feed @marpa_peter

JOHN DRAKE - 11/03/1941 - 30/12/2023

It is with great sadness that we have to report the death of John Drake. John died at the end of December 2023 after a short illness, aged 82. At the time of his death he was honorary chair of Marpa, and until November 2023 had also served as secretary for a number of years.

A Cambridgeshire boy to his core, John lived in the village of Cheveley near Newmarket for his entire life. After attending Soham Grammar School he went into training as an accountant. As a chartered accountant his expertise was much in demand. Retiring early, he took on private clients and was professionally active until quite recently. In terms of using his skills voluntarily for the benefit of other organisations, John was treasurer for the Ffestiniog Railway East Anglian Group at the time of his death, a role he had conscientiously carried out for over 50 years. He was also honorary auditor for Railfuture East Anglia's accounts for a number of years and served as voluntary auditor for Cheveley PCC.

John had a lifelong interest in preserved railways; apart from his involvement with the Ffestiniog Railway, he was also a member of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway, The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Friends of the Great Central Main Line and the Poppy Line, North Norfolk Railway.

His principal contribution to the promotion of railways and rail travel was undoubtedly his involvement with Marpa. One of its founder members in 1990 under the aegis of Railfuture, John devoted many hours to the sometimes frustrating work of lobbying for better services and passenger facilities on the Mid Anglia route connecting Ipswich with Cambridge and Ely. That the quality of the service provided has improved immeasurably over the past three decades is in no small way directly the consequence of the work John and other volunteers have done in their engagement with the railway industry. The Mid Anglia route goes from strength to strength, and whilst lobbying ambitions still need to be fulfilled - notably an hourly service between Ipswich, Ely, March and Peterborough, as well as the establishment of a Mid Anglia Community Rail Partnership - the high quality of the service available in 2024 reflects John's patient industry and diligence over many years. Marpa members - and particularly those serving on the rail user group's committee - will undoubtedly miss his knowledge and wisdom on matters rail related.

John was unmarried. He leaves behind two sisters, Jean and Sylvia, and four nephews to whom we offer our condolences and best wishes.

The 2022 AGM took place on Saturday 15th October at Friends Meeting House, St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds IP33 1SJ - minutes can be read here. Presentations were made by Alan Neville of Greater Anglia and Charles Baker from Network Rail, and a lively question and answer session followed. Charles' presentation can be viewed here.

The 2021 AGM was held on 23rd October at Friends Meeting House, St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds IP33 1SJ. Notes on the AGM can be viewed here, with details of the Q & A here. The Network Rail presentation by Marian Craig, Public Affairs Manager, can be downloaded as a Microsoft Powerpoint file (4Mb) by right-clicking this link and choosing 'Save link as'

The 2019 AGM was held on Saturday 13 April at Friends Meeting House, St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds. Draft minutes can be read here.

Earlier minutes are also available:
2018 AGM here, 2017 AGM here, 2016 AGM here and 2015 AGM here.
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Autumn 2023 - focussing on the tthreat of ticket office closures
Spring 2023
- with thoughts on connections
Autumn 2022
- some concerns about our train service
Summer 2021
- with lots of news snippets
Spring 2021
- our line's 175th anniversary
July 2020
- in response to the first lockdown
Spring 2020
- written pre-Covid
Autumn 2019
- AGM report
Spring 2019
- What does MARPA do?
Autumn 2018
- Long hot summer woes
Spring 2018
- Beast From The East
Autumn 2017
- Needham Market access
Spring 2017
- Commuters or passengers?
Autumn 2016
- Franchise change
Spring 2016
- Station investments
Autumn 2015
- Elmswell disappointment
Spring 2015 - Newmarket delight
Autumn 2014 - Privatisation confusion
Spring/Summer 2014
- a reminder
Autumn 2013
- reporting on the AGM
Winter 2012
- Olympic outcome
Spring 2012
- overcrowding
Winter 2011
- the car v train debate
Summer 2011
- on London-bound options
Spring 2011
- reflecting on a hard winter
Winter 2010
- and the timetable change
Spring 2010
- and the arguments for two-car units
Winter 2009
- with the focus on two growing mid-Suffolk villages
Summer 2009
- Including timetable change consultation
Spring 2009
- Including confusion over fares
Autumn 2008 - Including the problems of visiting bird sanctuaries by public transport
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Affiliated to Railfuture