Thornham hosts Coasthopper timetable meeting

Meeting at Thornham village hall on buses ANL-161205-082332001
Meeting at Thornham village hall on buses ANL-161205-082332001
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Villagers from along the coast gathered at Thornham Village Hall on Wednesday evening to demand that changes be made to the Coasthopper timetable.

Passengers are unhappy with Stagecoach because, particularly on the winter timetable, those wanting to take the bus into Lynn face a long wait for the next train to London.

Andy Campbell, managing director of Stagecoach East, was at the meeting to hear the concerns and expressed surprise at some of the claims.

A letter was read to the meeting from Edward Glover, an ex-diplomat, who said he and his wife still worked at the Foreign Office in London, but had found the bus service now failed to meet their needs.

“The bus link has become less effective in the past 12 months, giving a 50-minute wait at the railway station for the next train, therefore we arrive in London one hour later .”

Sarah Reed, from Burnham Market, said: “I use the bus station all the time and there is never anybody there to ask and the one time I did find someone he said ‘don’t ask me, I don’t know!’

“I need to go to London to work. I work locally and I work in London, in the winter my journey takes five-and-a-half hours. It takes four hours in the summer, it is true.

“I don’t want to sit in the station cafe for 50 minutes. It is not a very warm cafe, anyway. On one occasion it took more than six hours to get to London. I could have got to America! And it is not the trains, it is the buses.”

David Hissey, from Wells, said the bus got into the railway station eight minutes after the London train had left.

“We have got to make the bus and train work together somehow,” he said.

John Dobson, a West Norfolk borough councillor for Dersingham, said he thought the tone of the meeting had been very polite compared to a gathering on the same subject in his village.

““We have been very kind tonight. At Dersingham it was a bit more shouty! We don’t want to be shouting but 18 months ago we had a working system. It worked all the way to Wells and beyond and it worked brilliantly.

“It meant that those who were travelling by train knew they could catch a bus.”

He said it would cost £45 to take a taxi into Lynn.

“I would urge the parish councils to keep the pressure on. It is a tragedy we have lost that environmentally-friendly, helpful, transport system that was integrated with the railway.”

He said he thought it would be necessary to “keep on their cases for a few more months” but that the companies could change it very quickly.

Mr Campbell said that “a considerable amount of money had been spent on integrating the service”.

He said that the last meeting he had attended had been “exactly the opposite to this” in that villagers were asking for more services. Faster services to Lynn, cutting out some stops “would disadvantage some people”, he said.

He insisted that there were always controllers at the bus station to help with queries from passengers.

There was also a representative at the meeting from Lynx, who said they were limited in what they could offer as they were so much smaller than Stagecoach.

Mr Campbell admitted his company were not particularly happy with Lynx operating on their patch and said that they were forbidden by law to “talk to each other” to prevent a cartel being formed.