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Longer journeys confirmed on West Norfolk rail line

Launch of new trains and opening of new Cambridge North Station
Launch of new trains and opening of new Cambridge North Station

Rail passengers in West Norfolk will face longer journeys from next month after new timetable arrangements were confirmed.

Industry bosses say the plans, which will see many journeys take around 10 minutes more than they do now, are necessary to improve performance and accommodate growing passenger demand.

But, ahead of a regional rail summit meeting next week, campaigners here have criticised what they see as the continuing delay in delivering the services the borough needs.

Fen Line Users Association chairman Colin Sampson said: “Absolutely everything we have been promised has slipped and slipped and slipped.”

The latest announcement by Great Northern covers weekday service timetables which will be introduced from May 20. Arrangements for weekend timetables are expected to be published in the coming weeks.

Under the arrangements, services from West Norfolk will stop at the new Cambridge North station for the first time, instead of passengers having to change at Cambridge or Ely.

But many journeys between Lynn and London will now take one hour and 50 minutes to complete, instead of around one hour 40 as they are meant to at present.

A Great Northern spokesman said: “With passenger numbers doubling in 16 years, the allocated stop times at many stations are simply too short to reasonably account for those getting off and on - so at 75 stations trains will stop for longer.

“Many services currently have very short turnaround times at destination stations, so the slightest delay on the route means they don’t start their return journey on time and the delay multiplies. The new timetable has increased turnaround times to help.”

Mr Sampson said he suspected longer journeys would be accepted by many passengers if there was sufficient seating capacity on the route.

But, with no sign of the long-awaited eight-coach trains coming into service on the route, timetable and capacity issues are likely to be high on the agenda when politicians and business leaders meet rail industry bosses at a summit in Ely next Friday.

And Mr Sampson said longer trains could already be running if some operating rules were changed.

He said: “Eight carriage trains would relieve most of our problems.

“We need to start applying a lot of pressure on the Department for Transport and the railway rules.”


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