Marks Tey - Bures - Sudbury
Rail Line (1990-1999)
link runs from Marks Tey through Bures to Sudbury.
It has been known by many names in the past few years, such as :-
Valley Line` the original name from 1865, in use up to the late
`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
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
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
Class 101 Diesel Multiple Unit
Class 101 DMU, North of Marks Tey
Photo courtesy of David Lacy
- 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
(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
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
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
"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