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Action demand after critical report for West Norfolk’s main rail operator

A Great Northern train at King's Lynn Railway Station
A Great Northern train at King's Lynn Railway Station

West Norfolk’s main rail operator has one of the worst records in the country for service disruption, a new report has revealed.

Great Northern bosses have been urged to act after a National Audit Office (NAO) report concluded the Govia Thameslink franchise, of which it is part, had not given value for money.

But the company says it is confident that passengers will feel the benefits of current improvement work “for generations to come.”

The NAO report says that, over a three-year measurement period to September last year, 16 per cent of Great Northern services failed to meet the standard for services arriving at their destination within five minutes of their scheduled time.

That ranks it 41st out of 49 operators, with the other Govia operators all in the bottom four of the table.

The report said that although some improvements had been introduced, including new trains on the Great Northern route, the level of disruption seen under the franchise meant the government had not achieved value for money from it so far.

Discover King’s Lynn chairman Darren Taylor said the report confirmed the franchise was not delivering for West Norfolk passengers.

He said: “I call on GTR to take immediate action to improve their services and to follow through as soon as possible with their promises for eight-carriage trains on the Fen Line.”

North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham called the report a “dreadful indictment” of the company and said he was concerned that failure to deliver new rolling stock elsewhere on the network could have implications for the longer trains promised on the Fen Line, which are expected later this year.

He said: “It does not reflect well on their credibility and they have a lot to do to restore confidence.”

But Govia Thameslink chief executive Charles Horton insisted the company was making “good progress” in upgrading its network.

He said: “It is only right that a franchise of unprecedented scale and ambition receives scrutiny, and I am more confident than ever that its trailblazing achievements will be felt by rail travellers for generations to come.”

Fen Line Users’ Association secretary Andy Tyler said following talks this week, that the company had been “overwhelmed” by problems.

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