Rail bosses have finally admitted longer trains will not run to and from West Norfolk this year, councillors have heard.
Doubts over the project have grown since Network Rail officials admitted last month that they had no completion date for it, despite previously pledging it would be finished by the end of 2018.
A West Norfolk Council committee this week heard it was now likely to be “some time” next year before the scheme is completed.
And officials say longer journeys between the borough and London are still in planned new timetables for the route, despite protests from politicians, business leaders and rail campaigners.
Peter Jermany’ the council’s principal planner with specific responsibility for transport policy, told the council’s Lynn area consultative committee on Monday: “It’s not ideal when you’re trying to promote the borough as a place to do business.”
Mr Jermany said design work on lengthening platforms at some stations on the line, which will enable them to accommdate eight coach trains, is expected to be completed this summer.
At that point, Network Rail bosses are set to make a final decision on whether the funding needed will be invested.
But the presentation suggested there was still no end in sight for passengers facing regular overcrowding on the borough’s trains.
Committee chairman Andy Tyler said national media reports at the weekend had highlighted journeys between Lynn and Cambridge as being among the worst in the country for passenger congestion.
The presentation also came amid calls for alternative investment streams to be sought for rail improvements.
Writing on the Conservative Home website, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor James Palmer said he wanted to make his area a “Network Rail-free zone” because of what he sees as its failure to deliver the network the region needs.
King’s Lynn BID chairman Darren Taylor said he shared Mr Palmer’s frustration.
He said: “I am constantly shocked and disappointed by the seemingly endless delays, and huge costs, associated with improvements to services to King’s Lynn.
“I will leave it to our politicians to decide on the best way to reform Network Rail, but it is clear the current system doesn’t work and change is needed.”
A Network Rail spokesman said: “We know how important enabling eight-car trains to run to King’s Lynn is for passengers.
“We are currently working up plans with operators to confirm when the infrastructure works to enable these services can take place.
“We should be in a position to set out expected delivery timescales for these infrastructure works once we have completed our usual internal planning and governance processes.”