‘Talking bench’ will welcome passengers at Chappel & Wakes Colne rail station

28 February 2024

A project to install a ‘talking bench’ at Chappel & Wakes Colne rail station in Essex will offer people information about the local area as they wait for trains.


The unusual bench features a speaker and, at the press of a button, tells the story of the area, including the history of the villages, the East Anglian Railway Museum, the viaduct and the railway.

It will provide interest to those arriving or waiting for trains – but is also aimed at tackling social isolation and loneliness by helping to provide a place for people to connect and chat.

The bench, funded by the Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership, was installed at the request of station adopter volunteer, Kath Beck, who wanted to offer somewhere on the station for people to sit and chat to others.

The Community Rail Partnership also funded the installation of a concrete base and ramp to ensure that the bench is accessible to all.

Station adopter, Kath Beck, said, “After completing training with the Samaritans I thought it would be great to have one of these benches on the approach to the station. “I’ve seen them at other stations in Essex and thought that it could provide a place for local people to sit and chat, and also provide a nice welcome and interesting information for people visiting the area. I hope it will be enjoyed by the whole community.”

Jayne Summer, Rail Engagement Manager at the Community Rail Partnership said, “We hope the new bench gets people talking and brings people together. The bench not only provides useful information but is also intended to help tackle loneliness by providing encouraging people to connect and talk.”

Greater Anglia’s Community and Customer Engagement Manager, Alan Neville, said, “The talking benches are a great addition to stations on our network, providing a novel and fun way to find out what there is to see and do locally, helping to boost tourism to the area and encourage more journeys by rail. We are very grateful to the Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership and Community Rail Network for funding and facilitating the project.”

Additional benches have been funded by the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership and Community Rail Network, who worked with Greater Anglia’s Asset Management Team to have them installed at Alresford, Braintree, Hockley, Manningtree, Marks Tey and Wrabness stations.


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