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The communities of Lakenheath and Mildenhall will see bus service slashed starting in March when one of the region’s main carriers, National Express, cuts the only line that stops directly next to the two RAF bases.

On March 6, National Express will “merge” the 495 and 496 lines into a single 496 service, said Joy Williams, a spokeswoman for the bus company.

Currently, the 495 line is the only one that stops near the bases on its way between London’s Victoria Station and points north, according to information from National Express. The bus stops around 9 a.m. at Beck Row just off Mildenhall and at Brandon Road near Lakenheath when it heads toward the capital, then again around 8 p.m., traveling the other direction.

The 495 and the 496 also stop in the center of Mildenhall on King Street, where the other National Express service — a regular bus from Heathrow airport with stops every two hours — drops off and picks up.

After the merger, the 496 will be making stops only in central Mildenhall, a couple of miles from the front gate of the RAF base, cutting in half the number of buses now pulling into the town and eliminating the base stops altogether, Williams said.

The Heathrow line, the 727, will remain mostly unaffected, she said.

The move is a result of diminished business on the two lines in recent years, Williams said. National Express originally proposed to cut the service several years ago, but kept it because of public uproar, she said.

However, business has not improved, and the company can no longer afford two lines through the area, she said.

“Basically, operating both services, the 495 and the 496, is no longer commercially viable,” she said.


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