Last week I travelled with a colleague to visit a friend in Whitstable, Kent. The fare was reasonable, but the train – the off-peak 09.11 from Downham – was almost full leaving Downham, full and standing from Ely, and despite passengers getting off at Cambridge, absolutely packed and standing all the way to Kings Cross, not to mention hot and noisy.
Our train from St Pancras – a 100 mph plus Inter City “Javelin”, had plenty of spare seats, and we sat in quiet, air-conditioned comfort to Whitstable and back.
On our return to Kings Cross we joined the throng and managed to get a seat on the 16.44 to Downham. This train was packed, hot and noisy, with standing passengers as far as Littleport. With innumerable housing developments in West Norfolk, plus a huge new housing estate going up in Ely, how are these additional people going to get to work? I see no signs of massive job creation schemes in Downham, Lynn and Hunstanton, nor any upgrades to the local road network, so the only option for long distance commuting will be to try to get on a train. We are half-promised some replacement (but second-hand) trains later in the year to replace the second-hand ones we now have, but these are unlikely to bring any significant increase in capacity, and won’t be the long-distance trains which a busy route to London needs. I would suggest that North West Norfolk has been severely short-changed in the latest round of rail franchises, and the promises of half-hourly service, Inter-City style trains, seem a distant memory.
Masefield Drive, Downham