Marks Tey - Bures - Sudbury
Rail Line (1990-1999)

The rail link runs from Marks Tey through Bures to Sudbury.
It has been known by many names in the past few years, such as :-

`The Stour Valley Line` the original name from 1865, in use up to the late 90`s.
`The Lovejoy Line`circa 1998 - 2006 after a BBC TV series based on a local antique dealer,
`The Gainsborough Line` from 2006 to the present.
Named after the renowned local artist, Thomas Gainsborough

Sometime during the 90`s, the link was severed between Colchester North and Marks Tey. It was then no longer possible to travel from Sudbury to Colchester without changing at Marks Tey. The reason for this change was the old `green` heritage diesel multiple units on the Marks Tey to Colchester North section, could not compete in speed with the faster electric `Anglia` Class 86 Locomotives on the same route. They were basically slowing up other traffic, and consequently a decision was made to remove them from this section.
Not a popular decision with shoppers, who had been using the link, not only from Bures to Colchester North but onward to Colchester Town (St Botolphs) station.
Shoppers, now moved their journeys over to Chambers Buses who would take them directly into the town centre.

With fast connection links to London Liverpool Street the line soon became very popular with commuters who moved out of the capital to the peace and tranquility of the Suffolk countryside. The demise of the `shopper commuter` had rapidly been taken over by the age of the `city commuter`
Now, as passengers numbers increased, the old diesel units became wholly inadequate with severe overcrowding during the rush hours.



With carriages densely packed during the morning and evening peak travel times, the line soon became known by many unpopular names, one being the "Misery Line"

1st Generation Class 101 Diesel Multiple Unit

class 101

Class 101 DMU, North of Marks Tey 1991.

Photo courtesy of David Lacy

Mount Bures Crossing 1991

Courtesy of Ian Dinmore


1995 - 1999:- Major line upgrade
During the late 90`s, there was a sustained campaign by the commuters and the local press into coercing the train operator to provide more modern day rolling stock.
Finally it was announced new trains would be arriving.

Fortunately, at the same time it was decided to upgrade the entire length of the track.


(a) Manned crossings (Mount Bures/Cornard) were converted to barriers and warning lights.
The Level Crossings are triggered by the train, and locally monitored automatically. (once the barriers are proved to be down, and the reds are flashing to the road, the white light to the driver illuminates.

Photo taken October 2010, Mount Bures Signalmans cottage still stands abandoned.

(b) Semaphore arm signaling was removed & upgraded to coloured traffic warning lights.

(c) The branch operates on a "One Train" working system...meaning that the line from Marks Tey is like a large unsignalled siding, once the train passes the signal at Marks Tey, it enters the one train working section.
The Liverpool Street Integrated Electronic Control Centre (IECC) controls the line, and not the Colchester Power Signal Box. Colchester PSB takes over from just south of Colchester on the Mainline.

Finally the new trains arrived. The 30yr+ diesel multiple units were moved over to Wales and the operator, Network South East leased a modern Class 153 single carriage Sprinter.
At last, the commuters had a comfortable journey.


1990`s Rolling Stock:-


Class 150`s where often seen on the branch line.

"Anglia" colour scheme was much later introduced.

1990s Class 101 DMUs then Class 153 Sprinters
1993 Class 156 SuperSprinter
1994 Class 153 Sprinters
1998 Class 121 Bubble Cars
1999 Class 153 Sprinters

Revised 04.01.11