Action ‘vital’ for longer trains plan, MPs say
MPs in West Norfolk will be “pushing flat out” to get eight-coach trains on the line from Lynn to King’s Cross as soon as possible.
That’s according to North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham, who received an update on the project which will double the length of trains running to and from Lynn, from MP Andrew Jones, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, last week.
In a letter to Sir Henry, Mr Jones said the Department for Transport approved a funding package of around £27 million in February, which will allow Network Rail to upgrade the stations at Waterbeach and Littleport, by extending the platforms to accommodate longer trains.
Work is expected to start in October, and to be completed in the summer of 2020, to “relieve overcrowding and provide additional capacity to support future passenger growth”.
Mr Jones said: “I appreciate how important this project is for local businesses, and I understand your frustration with the length of time it is taking to be implemented.”
He added: “The timetable to deliver eight-car trains is currently expected to be introduced in December 2020.
“One of the key lessons from the timetable issues experienced last summer is the importance of sticking to the established process and timeframes to ensure changes are delivered reliably.”
Mr Jones said “seemingly minor” changes can have knock-on impacts to other services, and need to be planned accordingly.
While they are working to a plan of introducing longer trains in December 2020, Govia Thameslink Railway is working with Network Rail to deliver the eight-car services “earlier if possible”, provided it does not affect the network’s overall reliability.
Sir Henry said it is “vital” that both Ministers and the train operating company, Great Northern, take action.
He said: “Both myself and Elizabeth Truss, and indeed all of the other MPs along the route, are absolutely 100 per cent determined to ensure that these eight-car trains are introduced as soon as possible.
“Whilst it is good news that work is going to start later this year, I do not believe the public will understand why the new extended trains will not be able to start running immediately.
“This is why we are all going to be pushing flat out to get the eight cars as soon as possible.”
Sir Henry added: “The bottom line is that the current levels of congestion and overcrowding on this service are completely unacceptable and intolerable.
“Although the service is now achieving more reliability and punctuality, nevertheless myself and other MPs are receiving an unprecedented number of complaints, so it is absolutely vital that both Ministers and the train operating company take action.”
More by this authorRebekah Chilvers