Longer train journeys ‘not good news for passengers’, says West Norfolk MP

Launch of new trains at King's Lynn Railway Station
Launch of new trains at King's Lynn Railway Station

Passengers are being urged to back up criticism of plans for longer rail journeys between West Norfolk and London before a public consultation closes this week.

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss yesterday became the latest to voice concerns over operator Great Northern’s new draft timetables for the route.

The plans, on which a consultation exercise ends this Thursday, would see most daytime journeys from Lynn to the capital take around 10 minutes longer than they do now.

The company has said the timetables are meant to coincide with the expected introduction of longer trains late next year and will improve performance on the network.

But Ms Truss, who has held talks with Great Northern’s parent company Govia Thameslink on the issue, said: “I want to ensure our current provision is improved and lengthening travel times is not good news for rail passengers in our region.

“I would urge commuters to contribute to the consultation before it closes this week.”

Ms Truss’ comments follow earlier criticism from politicians, business leaders and rail campaigners of the proposals.

Last week, West Norfolk Council, the King’s Lynn BID organisation and the Fen Line Users Association (FLUA) jointly called on the government to step in to ensure current journey times were maintained.

FLUA chiefs have also called for fares to be cut, claiming Great Northern broke its promise to maintain twice-hourly peak-time services between Lynn and London.

The company says the trains affected were duplicate services which would not be needed once longer trains are in service.

Ms Truss said she welcomed the extra stop at the new Cambridge North station, which is not currently served by trains to and from Lynn, that is included in the new timetable.

She also described plans for new direct services linking Cambridge with Gatwick and Heathrow airports, as well as Ashford International, where passengers could then join Eurostar services to the continent instead of London St Pancras, as “very good news.”

But she also warned that the re-timing of services was likely to have a particular impact on students making their way home from schools.

The consultation, which can be found online at www.transformingrail.com, closes at 5pm this Thursday, July 27.